Below is the text of Kaela Frank's speech delivered at Prime Minister Edud Olmert's residence, October 9, 2006.
Good afternoon Prime Minister Olmert and esteemed guests. My name is Kaela Frank and I am honored to be here today representing the 437 chanichim from North America, England, Scotland and Puerto Rico that are currently on Hadassah’s Young Judaea and FZY Year Course
, one of Masa’s largest programs. Year Course is a nine-month program that offers a variety of experiential, volunteer and academic opportunities in Israel.
I am currently involved in the Jerusalem Studies component. We can take classes for credit in Hebrew language, Zionism, contemporary Israeli politics, philosophy, Jewish texts, Jewish history and Israeli dance. All Jerusalem studies are augmented by educational seminars and day trips in and around Jerusalem. Recently my Zionism class went on a siyur to different Kibbutzim to deepen our understanding of the First and Second Aliyot. Siyurim like this allow the country to serve as a living classroom, an opportunity most students don’t get on a regular basis.
The next three months are dedicated to an Israeli Experience of our choice. We can volunteer or participate in programs such as Marva, Dakar, the Et Garim Sports Center for the Disabled, Magen David Adom, the Adam and the Eve Ecological Farm, and various Youth Aliyah villages. I hope to be volunteering at the Sde Boker field school.
We finish the last three months with Community Volunteering in either Bat Yam or Holon. We will be helping out in kindergartens, tutoring and assisting in English classes in neighborhood schools, and working with the elderly and the underprivileged. Throughout all sections we will be continuing our Ulpan studies.
I was involved with Young Judaea, the Zionist Youth Movement of Hadassah that’s connected to this Israel program, for the past three years. I joined in the fall of 2003 and fell in love with the movement after my first convention. I was so captured by the commitment of my peers to leadership, education, and tikkun olam, that I knew that I wanted Young Judaea to be a bigger part of my life. Year Course seemed like the next logical step. I wanted to be able to educate others about Israel, Judaism and the struggle for its co-existence and I knew that first I would need to educate myself.
Coming to Israel has been a necessary part of that education as well as a cornerstone in discovering my Jewish identity and mapping out my future involvement with Young Judaea, Judaism and Zionism. I have learned a great deal from teachers and peers, textbooks and maps, but none has compared to the hands-on experience of immersing myself in the variety of cultures present in Israel. I am learning to embrace them as my own.
I am learning the language, testing my ability as an ambassador and learning to balance independence and responsibility. I have had the opportunity to explore my spirituality and I am beginning to understand how much Israel means to me. After one month of living here there is no doubt in my mind that this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
On behalf of the 437 chanichim of Year Course 2006-2007 I want to personally thank Prime Minister Olmert, his staff, Masa, the Jewish Agency, Hadassah and all of the people that make programs like ours possible. Because of your financial support, me and 83 other Masa scholarship recipients are able to take part in this exceptional, life-changing long term program.
Many of us have dreamed our whole lives of coming to Israel and you have helped to make that dream possible. I only hope that we will be able to give back to Israel what you have given to us. Thank you & Chag Sameach.