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                                                          The NACOEJ/Edward G. Victor High
                                                             School Sponsorship Program

                                     The Face of Israel: Representing Israel
                                     at an International Science Camp
                                     It is not often one meets a young student with the grace and poise of Noa Yeshayahu. Noa,
                                     a senior at the Aleh Lod High School for Sciences, is calm when she describes her intense
Be an                                schedule studying for high-level matriculation exams, going to an advanced after-school
Ambassador                           program, and applying to be a student-soldier in the IDF’s prestigious Atidim Program.
                                     Noa makes it all sound easy but it is clear that she is highly
We are happy to bring you            accomplished. Her talent was recognized last summer when she
this sixth issue of Bridges,         was chosen to represent Israel at an international science camp in
written by Judy Dick, Co-            Mumbai, India.
ordinator of Educational
Programs, with the help of           “This camp was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, both
Leah Barkai, Israel Coordi-          academically and socially,” Noa says. Noa learned about the
nator of the High School                                              camp through the Weizmann
Program. Let us know if         “This camp was a once-in-a- Institute of Science, where she
you have news about your         lifetime opportunity, both           attends a program for exceptional
own students to share, and       academically and socially.” Ethiopian high school students.
please pass this newsletter                                           The camp’s high level put science
on to friends and family who         in a whole new light for her. “I met scientists and Nobel Prize
might also want to support           winners that lectured to us about… their various studies.”
Ethiopian-Israeli high school
students. You are an ambas-          Noa was surprised to find herself in the role of teacher too. As one of seven Israeli students
sador for these boys and             amongst 240 students from around the world, Noa became an unofficial ambassador for
girls and your endorsement           Israel, fielding all kinds of questions about her home country. “I managed to significantly
will go a long way. Thank            change many people’s opinions about Israel,” Noa says proudly. There couldn’t be a better
you! Please feel free to call        choice for the ‘face of Israel.’
Judy Dick at 212-233-5200,
ext. 230 or e-mail                   NACOEJ has literally watched Noa grow up. She attended a Limudiah* in Lod and has been in               the high school program since tenth grade. Noa fondly remembers Limudiah and the help she
                                                                                                                                  continued on page 3

North American Conference            High School Sponsorships Help Students Attend Good Local Schools
on Ethiopian Jewry                   Founded in 1997, the NACOEJ/Edward G. Victor High School Sponsorship Program has enabled countless Ethiopian-
255 West 36th St. Suite 701          Israeli teenagers to attend high-quality local schools in their communities instead of leaving home for lower-level,
NY, NY 10018                         state-subsidized boarding schools. While basic high school tuition is covered by the Israeli government, schools
212-233-5200 x 230                   charge additional fees that are often beyond the means of Ethiopian immigrant families. NACOEJ sponsorships cover
Fax: 212-233-5243                    these fees, so that Ethiopian students can take advantage of all educational opportunities in their schools. With this
                                     help, they earn an education that increases their chance of getting into college, and ultimately become self-support-
                                     ing professionals able to help their families break out of poverty.
Sponsors Build Relationships With Students
Through letters and visits, our sponsors personalize their connection with their students across the sea.

The Written Connection
Efrat Sabahat, a bubbly            could correspond.                    writer. I want to ask you if you   achievements. The lesson I
eleventh grader who attends        Efrat, Fall 2008                     always knew that you would         learned, and one which you
the Religious High School                                               be a lawyer? This is a decision    should learn too, is to choose a
in Yavne, has been writing         I very much enjoyed receiving        you must have thought about        profession that you truly love…
to her sponsor,                            your note thanking           deeply. Is being a lawyer the      October 2009, Kushner
Robert Kushner                             me… As we continue           top of your achievements?
of Pittsburgh,                             to write each other,         Efrat, Fall 2009                   I have written four books to
Pennsylvania, for                          please do not hesitate                                          date and I also draw, sculpt,
five years. Kushner’s                      to ask me more and           When I entered university, I       and dance. Aside from school,
advice has helped                          I will answer all of         studied accounting. Before I       I am doing a few courses that
her learn about                            your questions. I am a       graduated… I decided that I        will count toward a Bachelor’s
possibilities for her                      retired lawyer. I have a     wanted to go to law school in      degree in the Faculty of
future.                                    wife and we have been        the evening. An official at the    Agriculture. In the future, I
                                           married for 52 years.        law school said I would get a      want to be a prosecutor and
Here are excerpts from             Kushner, July 2009                   better education if I attended     if I am successful, perhaps a
their correspondence.                                                   law school during the day.         district court judge.
                                   Your life sounds very                During my law school studies, I    Efrat, November 2009
I am one of the students you       interesting, especially to me        began to realize that I
are supporting with your           because I want to be a lawyer,       wanted to be a lawyer and          I hope my story will be
generous stipend, I send you       but a criminal lawyer. What          not an accountant.                 similar to yours. Well, I am
a thousand thanks! …               kind of lawyer are you?                                                 trying to fulfill my dream to
I would be very happy if           …I also might want to                My life as a corporate lawyer      be a criminal lawyer.
you wrote me back and we           become a psychologist or a           was indeed at the top of my        Efrat

A Visit with Current and Past Students

Morris and Beverly Weinstein       they visited Israel this winter,     three years of high school and     Beverly noted that although
can take pride in seeing the       they were able to meet not           they kept in touch constantly.     Atakelt has only been in Israel
    fruits of their efforts        only the student they currently      Hana hopes to be a child           for a few years, she speaks
               helping Ethiopian   sponsor, Atakelt Ekel, but also      psychologist or pediatrician       excellent Hebrew and even
                teens. When        a past student, Hana Tayacho.        one day – the Weinsteins look      knows some English.
                                                                        forward to hearing more from
                                   Morris and Beverly met               her in vthe future.                About sponsoring an
                                   Hana at a daycare center in                                             Ethiopian-Israeli high school
                                   the Assaf HaRofeh Medical            The Weinsteins also traveled       student, Beverly says, “We
                                     Center, where Hana is              to Bat Yam to see their new        are her ima and abba in the
                                        doing her national              student, Atakelt. There            United States!” Like any
                                           service. Hana, who           is nothing like meeting a          “parents”, they can be proud
                                            graduated last year,        student in person. Both            of their sponsored “children”
                                              was sponsored by          were impressed by Atakelt’s        as they grow up and succeed,
                                                the Weinsteins for      dedication to her studies.         in part due to their help.

                                                     Beverly reunites with Hana Tayacho.
A Partnership With a New School

One of the secrets to the               in an airy, light-colored stone      a teacher and guidance            described their favorite
success of the high school              building, is only three and a half   counselor dedicated to working    subjects at school.
program is our good                     years old. The Ben-Yehudah           with the Ethiopian students.      Most of their families
relationships with Israeli              School is a comprehensive high                                         struggle to get by, but
secondary (junior and high)             school, which means that it          It was an experience to meet      these boys and girls are full of
schools. We work closely with           begins with the seventh grade.       the whole group of students       positive energy and have great
schools to ensure that the              The Ethiopian students are a         at once. Initially shy, they      hopes for the future. It was
NACOEJ scholarships help the
students as much as possible.
                                          Tigist Bitau: Having No Patience Pays Off:
This year, we began a new
relationship with the Eliezer             Several years ago, we were amazed to learn that one of our
Ben-Yehudah School in Ness                Limudiah students, Tigist Bitau, had won a track competition
Ziona, a small city in central            meant for older runners. Apparently, the ten year old was
Israel. A promising group of              mistakenly put in the 12-16 year old group but beat her
seventh-graders from the                  competitors anyway. Tigist wrote to her sponsor that “My
school was accepted into our              name means ‘patience’ but I unfortunately have none!!!” It
high school program, thanks               looks as if ‘impatience’ is working for her- her winning streak
to a generous donation from a             has continued. This year she came in first in the national
long-time sponsor. It turns out           track championships for her age group (the correct age
that several of the students              bracket this time).
have familiar names; they had
been in our Limudiah in the               Tigist has been running for the Run Ness Ziona team since
Reut School in Ness Ziona. In             she was eight, and her talent has been praised by athletic
fact, one of them, Tigist Bitau,          trainers at the competitions. Although originally called a
had become known to us                    ‘wunderkind’ by the newspapers due to her youth and petite
when she won several                      build, when we met Tigist we saw that she has blossomed
running competitions.                     into a beautiful young girl. Along with everyone else, we
                                          look forward to seeing her progress along this path.
This winter, NACOEJ staff
visited the school. We were
greeted with excitement by the          small minority amongst its large     gradually opened up and           clear to us that our students
school principal, who told us           student body of 650 students,        talked to us about their          are doing well here, and we
about the school, its student           totaling only 30 this year. In       studies and hobbies. They         are happy to enable them to
body, and our Ethiopian                 order that they not fall between     told us of their interests in     attend a school that looks out
students. The school, housed            the cracks, the school employs       dance, music, and sports, and     for them.

‘Face of Israel’ continued from cover

got (although Shoshana Ben-             elementary school, I was an          What next for this impressive     study engineering and industrial
Dor, the NACOEJ Israel Director,        exceptional student, but when        young woman? She has              management and help Israeli
recalls that Noa was often busy         I got to high school, so was         already been accepted to          companies become more
helping other students). Noa            everyone else. I had to work         several universities, including   successful. We are sure that
greatly appreciates the support         harder to prove myself and to        the Technion. She is waiting to   wherever she goes, she will be
she got from her high school            get good grades.” Noa is in          hear about the Atidim Program,    a tremendous asset.
sponsor Ethel Booth, from Los           the computer science track,          which would allow her to get
Angeles, California.                    although her favorite subject is     her college degree before doing
                                        math. She also commented that        her army service. Noa’s eyes      *Limudiah is the NACOEJ
Noa has come a long way. She            she is one of only two Ethiopian     light up when she discusses       after-school program for
recalls how nervous she was,            students in her school and           math, but her vision for the      Ethiopian elementary school
beginning high school. “In              thinks the school needs more.        future is broader. She wants to   children in Israel.
Sponsorships Make it Possible For Students to Aim High
Our Ethiopian-Israeli students are setting their sights high as they plan for the future. Students tell us they hope
to be doctors, engineers, fashion designers, dancers, dentists, and more. Your financial support and words of
hope help your students tremendously. Read about just a few of our students’ goals and achievements.

                                 study medicine, saying “This         physics and computer science,
                                 is why I want to become a            was referred to a special
                                 cardiologist.”                       program that offers flying
                                                                      lessons to Ethiopian students.
                                 After graduating from Ben            She is excelling in the course
                                 Gurion High School in Ness           and has passed its rigorous
                                 Ziona this year, Yossi will serve    exams. At this point, she has
                                 in the Israeli army and has          already begun to fly.
Yossi Yeheyas stands out for     applied to its elite paratrooper                                          Avraham Mengistu
his dedication to his studies    unit. To his sponsors, he writes     Fikra has soared above her           and Shmuel Bekoya are
and his family. This high        that, “Your support helped           circumstances in more ways           considered model students
school teen went to an after-    me a lot throughout school. It       than one. Born in Ethiopia,          at Elyashiv Yeshiva High
school program in order to       allowed my parents to breathe        she immigrated with her              School in Lod. Both excel
excel in his studies, took the   easy about paying my tuition         family to Israel in 1999. She        academically and took their
highest level matriculation      and allowed me to focus on           lost her mother as a baby, and       final matriculation exams this
exams in several subjects,       school and friends.”                 her father is unable to work         year. They give back to the
and also attended wrestling                                                               due to an        community as counselors in the
classes. Last summer, he                                                                  accident at      Bnei Akiba youth group. And
visited concentration camps                                                               a past job.      last summer, they were chosen
in Poland with a youth group,                                                             Currently,       to represent the school on a
which he counts as one of the                                                             she lives        trip to Poland organized by the
most moving experiences in                                                                with her         local municipality.
his life.                                                                                 aunt.
                                                                                          Despite all      Future plans? These boys will
Yossi has achieved all this                                                               this, she is a   proudly serve their country next
despite personal tragedy. A                                           diligent student and is also a       year in the army and then they
few years ago, his mother        “I dream of being a pilot in         member of Scouts, an Israeli         hope to go to college. “I want
suffered a stroke and is still   the air force,” writes eleventh      youth group. Appreciative            to be a lawyer or accountant
recovering. In 2008, his older   grader Fikra                                        of the help she       when I’m older, and an army
brother underwent a heart        Fentahun, a           “I dream of being a           received from her     officer. These are my dreams
operation and is now confined    student at Ben          pilot in the air force.” sponsors, Gary           and I hope they will come
to a wheelchair. Another         Gurion High                                         and Esther            true,” says Avraham. We thank
brother stays at home to look    School. She already                               Polland of Bellaire,    their sponsors, including Barry
after him. Yossi has taken       has a head-start. Fikra, who         Texas, Fikra is excited about        Gold of South Fallsburg, New
this to heart and hopes to       takes advanced studies in            her future.                          York, for helping them get the
                                                                                                           best possible education.

Just the Facts                                                                               Like NACOEJ on Facebook
Did you know that in the 2010-2011 school year…                                              Receive breaking news about
• 1041 students were sponsored in the NACOEJ/                                                our programs and updates of
  Edward G. Victor High School Sponsorship Program.                                          interest relating to the Ethiopian-
                                                                                             Jewish community.
• 59 schools participated in the program in 18 cities
  throughout Israel.
• 181 of our students graduated high school!                              Since 1982, the North American Conference on Ethiopian
                                                                          Jewry (NACOEJ) has been providing humanitarian and edu-
• More than 800 students on our waiting list did not
                                                                          cational aid to the Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia
  receive sponsorships.
                                                                          and Israel. NACOEJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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