You may know that all Talmud Torah graduates are eligible for scholarships to be used for Israel education while in High School. Did you know, due to generous donors, our alumni can also receive scholarships for continued studies, long after they graduate?
While Hanah Cytron graduated from Talmud Torah more than a decade ago, her decision to further her Jewish education through a trip to Israel made her eligible to receive a grant from the Rachel Raviv Hoffer Memorial Endowment Scholarship Fund. This fund was established for Talmud Torah alumni pursuing higher education in Jewish studies or communal services. Our community was happy to assist her in participating in an Israel trip with the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
Read Hanah's first-hand account covering topics from her time at Talmud Torah, her journey to Israel, and the lessons she learned along the way.
How did your Talmud Torah education affect your Jewish identity and values? Talmud Torah was where I had a lot of my Jewish friends growing up and that became my main community - we all went to each other’s Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and stuff. Talmud Torah also taught me the Hebrew basics. What was your biggest takeaway from Talmud Torah Education? Growing up with this group of peers who became my friends and having that community of people, who not only went to Talmud Torah together, but also went to camp, Jewish youth groups, and other places together. Talmud Torah was the starting spot of that Jewish community I had growing up. What role did Talmud Torah play in your Israel experience? Especially my first couple of years at Talmud Torah, all of my teachers were Israeli, so I got my first real education just hearing my teachers talk about their experiences in Israel. Talmud Torah was always connected to other Jewish organizations too, so that gave us opportunities at Camp Olami and with the Israeli Scouts and more. In general, Talmud Torah’s education largely involved teaching us about Israeli culture, geography, and Israeli-centric holidays like Yom Ha’atzmaut. What Israel program did you attend? I went on the JNF Alternative Winter Break. It’s a volunteer-based program for college students and young professionals. We spent a week volunteering at different JNF supported sites, mostly in the desert, learning about agriculture and farms and helping with new agriculture initiatives.
What was one of your favorite parts of your Israel experience? They took us to a Bedouin new settlement and we learned about Bedouin culture, in general, and how they a really are sort of modern nomads and this makes it difficult for the Israeli government to support them. So they have this new initiative of working with the Bedouins to create this halfway-style village that is focused on teaching them updated agricultural processes but also allows them to keep their culture. So we helped them set up this garden to teach the younger kids about agriculture and we also learned about their culture and way of life.
What was the biggest takeaway from your Israel experience? I had been to Israel before, so I was definitely looking for this more-engaged, less tourist-focused trip. I took away that there are a lot of ways that Americans can get involved and support Israel. I got to see the underside, not the sugar-coated tourist version of Israel and what it is really like to work and live down in the Negev.