Seven Helyn B. Reich Scholarships Awarded for Study in Israel

Seven Helyn B. Reich Scholarships Awarded
for Study in Israel

American Zionist Movement Recognizes Outstanding Young Adults’ Dedication to Israel

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Contact: Deborah Fishman
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The American Zionist Movement’s Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Committee has selected seven exceptional candidates to receive scholarships for study in Israel for the fall semester of 2008 and full-year programs.

“AZM is proud to be recognizing young adults for their passion and commitment to Zionism by enabling them to study and participate in post-university programs in Israel,” said AZM’s President William D. Hess.

Representing the diversity of ways study abroad in Israel can enrich young adults’ education and career paths, the participants range in professional goals. Ilana Arnowitz has chosen to defer from New York University’s School of Law for a year in order to participate in OTZMA, a service-based leadership development program. “As an international business attorney, I hope to assist in creating joint-venture opportunities for Israeli start-up companies,” Arnowitz said. “I feel that I cannot begin my career path without first embarking on the OTZMA program and working hands-on to contribute to the quality of life for citizens throughout Israel.”

Another OTZMA participant, Melissa Keene, is a medical student at Northwestern University. During her time with OTZMA, she will work with Magen David Adom, complete a women’s health internship, and help teach English in Kiryat Gat. A native Chicagoan who spent ten summers at Camp Chi, Keene participates in the Israelimmud Education and Advocacy Fellowship and traveled on a recent JCRC lobbying trip to Washington, DC. “The combination of my medical knowledge with my Israeli education from OTZMA will allow me to emerge as a knowledgeable leader and social provider for the Jewish communities of Chicago, North America, and our beloved Israel,” Keene said.

Avital Okrent has made the decision to attend medical school at Ben Gurion School for International Health, passing up acceptance and a significant scholarship at a prominent American medical school. A committed Zionist who chose to serve in the IDF for two years following her high school graduation, Okrent gained her passion for medicine from her father, a physician, who was tragically and irreversibly brain-damaged in a car accident when she was five. “I know that my commitment to both medicine and Zionism can combine, enabling me to achieve my life’s ambition of helping people and advancing our state,” Okrent said.

This year marks the first time OTZMA participants have been eligible to receive Helyn B. Reich scholarships.

Of the other recipients, two – Justin Pollack and Aliyah Schneider – will participate in WUJS’s Land, Language & Society post-university program.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida in 2005, Pollack was active in Hillel and the Jewish fraternity AEPI on campus. He currently serves as Director of Teen Programs and Education for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, in which role he works in the community to engage and educate teens about Israel. “The experiences I will have while on the WUJS program will help propel me forward in my goals of attaining a Masters degree (in Jewish education or Jewish communal service) and ultimately advancing to a top executive position with a Jewish Organization, within which I can help advance both the Jewish people and the safety and security of Israel,” Pollack said.

Schneider is Development Associate for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. She also volunteers with the St. Louis Israel Connection, which fosters connections between young adults in the community in their 20s and 30s and Israel. A recent Birthright participant, Aliyah hopes to use her time at WUJS to look for ways to further the connection between Diaspora Jewry and Israel. “My ultimate goal is to bridge the life I’ve led thus far as an American Jew [and] the land and people of Israel by building a more profound relationship with the land while strengthening my skills as a leader/ambassador for the country,” she said.

Sarrah Bechor and Nira Lois Lee, rising college juniors, will study for a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University’s School for Overseas Students and the University of Haifa’s Honors Program in Peace and Conflict Resolution, respectively.

A political science major at Queens College’s Honor College, Sarrah hopes to use her time in Israel to research her thesis topic of Jews in Far East Asia and their political, ideological and perceptual relations with Israel. “Studying in Israel will be an immersion in the state’s politics and daily culture of its people, and my awareness will be enormously enriched by being part of the international and Israeli student body,” Bechor said.

Lee also looks forward to being a part of Israel society. “In Haifa, I hope to live for a year not as an American student in Israel, but as an Israeli, speaking Hebrew and living with Israeli roommates… while improving my Arabic in a country that inspired me to learn it,” she said. An active member of American University’s Hillel and Israel club, Lee has served as a CAMERA fellow and spent spring break at Moscow Hillel strategizing with Russian students how to advocate for Israel as diaspora Jews. Last winter, she volunteered at Akko’s Weitzman School to repair damage from the rockets which devastated northern Israel.

“These are bright and caring young adults who recognize that they are part of a greater whole, the Jewish people. They are using their time and talents to practice tikkun olam, making the world a better place. Their decision to do so in Israel enriches them professionally and personally, and it also contributes to the Jewish Homeland,” AZM Executive Director Karen Rubinstein said.

The Helyn B. Reich Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 1995 in memory of Helyn B. Reich, wife of founding AZM President Seymour D. Reich. The initial gift in Helyn’s memory was given by Mrs. Sarah Fischer and her son Dr. Stuart Fischer. The scholarship seeks to recognize candidates who have demonstrated pro-Israel activity in their personal lives and show a commitment to future involvement with the Jewish and Zionist community.

The deadline to apply for a Helyn B. Reich Scholarship for study in Spring Semester 2009 will be January 1, 2009.