Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Orot Israel College Supports Our Beleaguered Brethren in the South

“At first, I was very scared,” recalls Devorah Avazret, 17, from Nice in southern France. “Israel is very beautiful, and it’s heart-warming to always be among Jews. But I’m not used to sirens or falling missiles. Every time [we heard the siren], we had to run to the bomb shelter, and it was frightening and unpleasant.”
Devorah is one of some forty Jewish girls from France who are studying at Hemdat Hadarom College located just outside of Netivot. The French students are part of a one-year Torani preparatory program, which is comprised of both secular studies – including Hebrew-language Ulpan, a preparation course for the psychometric test, and more – and Jewish studies.
When the girls first arrived in Israel about a month ago, they realized that sirens were a fact of life. But, as Rav Eli Kling, head of the program explains, “The sirens and the rockets fell infrequently, and the girls learned to live with it. However, once the war in the South began, the girls’ reality changed. If it was only up to me, we would’ve stayed,” he continues. “There are spacious shelters, and there’s room to study. But under the circumstances, it became psychologically impossible. The girls’ parents are hysterical. It’s also very difficult for the girls to concentrate on their studies. We looked around for options to relocate the program until the crisis ended. Orot Israel College responded immediately and willingly.”
Here at Orot, we were more than up to the challenge. Students living in an entire dormitory building moved for the French students, and classrooms were made available for their use. In addition, the cafeteria remained open for them during the evenings, and the French girls resumed their regular routines.
 “‘איש את רעהו יעזורו ולאחיו יאמר חזק - ‘Each man shall help his fellow; and to his brother he shall say: be strong,’” quotes Rabbi Professor Neria Guttel, President of Orot Israel College. “Orot Israel College supports our brothers in the South, as part of our ideological worldview, which is to do as much as we can to help others. My good friend, the President of Hemdat Hadarom College, Professor Avi Levy approached me looking for a solution for a group of students from abroad, and we responded immediately to his request – even if it’s not a simple matter. We – the administration and the students – will do whatever we possibly can to help.”
And what does Devorah think about all this?
 “At a certain stage, one starts to adapt, to gain confidence,” she said. “We realized that things were beyond our control. In any event, I’m glad that we moved to Elkana. It’s much quieter and safer here.”
Baruch Hashem the students are now back in Netivot where hopefully they will enjoy the rest of their program.

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