Reflecting on a year of turbulence and extraordinary growth, U.S. students from Nishmat’s gap-year program, Shana Ba’Aretz (SBA), and its Alisa Flatow International Program, celebrated commencement with year-end banquets on Nishmat’s Dr. Monique C. Katz Campus in Jerusalem. Shana Ba’Aretz alumnae will return to the U.S. to attend college this fall, including 10 enrolled in Ivy League schools. But Chavie Rothschild from Maryland, who made aliya last month, will join two additional SBA students who plan to enlist in the Israeli National Service.
Alisa Flatow students, who include three recent olot, are on a different trajectory, often taking a mid-career break to study Torah. One is in the Mechina program at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, another will enter Columbia Law School in the fall.
“At the end of year banquet, I finally internalized that my year in Israel is coming to a close and I need to start setting goals to incorporate Torah learning into my life while in University next year. I said goodbye to my teachers and mentors and explained to them how each of them influenced and transformed my world view," said Kelly Pavel of New Jersey, (SBA 2016).
Another SBA student, Ilana Sherizen of Michigan, who will attend Stern College, said, "After spending a year at Nishmat, experiencing so much and growing immensely, I was pleased to have the opportunity to thank those without whom we would not be where we are today. The teachers and staff at Nishmat have become our family, our friends and our role models to emulate. The amount of Torah and life skills we gained cannot be expressed in words. Our final farewell, our misibat siyum (closing banquet) was a small tribute to the tremendous people that impacted us so much. Although our time at Nishmat has ended, the things we learned and, more importantly, the people we learned from will stay with us always."
Naomi Kling, an Alisa Flatow International Program student, who returned to Boston before Pesach to resume her job as a hospital administrator, recorded a video message for her classmates and teachers. She concluded her remarks with a blessing for her fellow students, "I hope that you all have smooth transitions, that you are leaving this year with many more questions than answers, and that you will take the time to incorporate Torah learning into your life always."