Shimon, a recent graduate of AMIT Yehuda Afula
I completed 12th grade at AMIT Yehuda Afula and graduated with a full bagrut certificate and am going to a pre-army preparatory program (mechina) in the fall before beginning my IDF service next summer. While this path is the norm for many Israeli teens, it wasn’t obvious in my case.
I am one of five children born into a working-class family, and neither of my parents finished high school. They assumed that their children would drop out of school and get manual labor positions, just as they had. For most of my high school years, I was considered an intelligent but unmotivated student, and even had a tendency to disrupt classes.
But last year was a watershed moment. I connected with my homeroom teacher, who demonstrated the importance of investing in himself and his education. I always thought school was a big waste of time, but my teacher and I had a lot of talks about it last year, and I came to see that putting in the time to study and do well is the key to creating a better life for myself.
Once it was obvious that I’d follow my father and uncles into the work force straight away, but now I want to serve in a top army unit and then study for a degree. I’m really glad I figured this out, and grateful to my teachers at AMIT Yehuda for not giving up on me.
Eitan, a recent graduate of the AMIT Elaine Silver Technological High School
Although deeply religious on a personal level, I had difficulty fitting into the yeshiva world and bounced from school to school in my early teens, eventually spending two years sitting at home doing nothing.
One day I noticed a small story about AMIT Elaine Silver’s new landscaping course and decided it sounded like something I was interested in. I came to check out the school and immediately felt at home. My parents weren’t so sure that it was the right place for me, since it was co-ed and not ultra-Orthodox in outlook. The school administration took the time to meet with me and my parents several times, helping them understand the special nature of the school, in which religious and secular students study together in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Today I’m a proud new graduate and amazed myself by earning a full 21-point matriculation certificate. I focused on graphic design and combined my family heritage with my studies in a unique way, creating an art project based on the shapes and meanings of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. My father is a sofer stam, a ritual calligrapher, and he was moved to tears when he saw my tribute to his work. Next year I will be learning in a hesder yeshiva and then will serve in the IDF’s Golani Brigade.
So much of our society is divided along religious lines, but not our school. Here we are all together, Haredi, religious, traditional, secular…It is simply part of the school’s DNA to be accepting and inclusive and respectful of everyone.
Shani, a student at the AMIT Fred Kahane Technological High School
I never used to like to go to school, and often stayed home. My parents both work long hours in local factories, and many mornings there was no adult in the house to make sure I got up and out to school. It was easy for me to skip school, so I did…a lot. But it slowly occurred to me that if I don’t get some sort of diploma, I would end up working in a factory my whole life with very little to show for it, like my parents. So I decided to make a change.
The change was enrolling in AMIT Fred Kahane, where I am studying towards a hairdressing certificate. I like learning how to do hair and practicing on my friends. I also like when we invite the elderly ladies from a nearby nursing home to come have their hair done, or when we go to them in the senior center. It is fun to see how excited they get, just like teenagers, when we are finished and they look pretty. I never realized I had the power to make someone else feel so good about themselves. And that makes me feel pretty good about myself, too.
Isabella, a student at Midreshet AMIT
When asked to sum up my year, I recalled the amazing feeling of security and excitement in Beit Hayeled, with kids running up and down the stairs with smiles on their faces and upbeat attitudes… I was paired to work with a ten-year-old boy named Koby. Every afternoon at 4:30, I made sure that he felt happy, loved and carefree. We played Xbox, rode bikes, or took trips to the makolet (corner grocery). We also talked about school, did homework and talked about everything, as one would do with an older sister. I am so grateful that I chose to come to Midreshet AMIT because, not only have I been surrounded by amazing teachers and role models, but I actually got to “Live Torah, Live Chesed.”
David, a recent graduate of Kfar Blatt
I was selected by a committee of the Ministry of Education to receive a national award in volunteerism and contribution to the community. I received the National Activist Award at a ceremony in Haifa that was broadcast live on educational television. I have been volunteering for the past five years at the Ein Ganim Youth Center and have worked with the center’s staff for many years, rising up from a very difficult time in my own life. Now I lead prevention groups for teens my own age. I also recently participated in a video that was made to change social consciousness about accepting others. Called “Let’s Do It Differently,” the video had over 3 million online views and won prizes from the Ometz Association and the Ministry of Education. I also help economically disadvantaged Ethiopian families obtain food and other basic necessities.
Moshe, a student at AMIT Bienenfeld Hevruta Yeshiva
I was an introverted boy, so much so that I was even afraid to leave my father’s car when I first arrived at the school. I joined the dog-training track and the learning process completely changed me, to the point where I was capable of teaching dog training classes myself. I became active and involved socially among my peers, and became an outstanding student in the field. I can’t believe how shy I was when I first arrived. I had some pretty unpleasant experiences in my previous schools, and I didn’t believe things could be any better for me here. But this place is different, and I realized quickly that it was okay to be myself here.
Avi, a student at AMIT Bienenfeld Hevruta Yeshiva
I am very tall, and when I first began studying at the yeshiva, I would walk bent over to be less noticeable. The staff created a challenge for me and connected me to the most extroverted student, the kid with the most “chutzpa” in class. At first the staff was wary that the relationship would be a disaster, but two months later, it was almost impossible to recognize us; both of us had changed completely. I became more social and more extroverted. And the extroverted, talkative kid had become more restrained, modest and calm. Knowing that you can be accepted here without having to fit in to a cookie-cutter mold lets you find out who you really are and what you are good at. I’m glad I had the chance to discover who I am on my own terms.