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
email@example.com. 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-
• 59 schools participated in the program in 18 cities
• 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
and Israel. NACOEJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
WE NEED MORE SPONSORS!