Excited as she prepared for Project Otzma
, Arielle Waite, back from Israel for about a month when she dropped into the Voice office, was even more enthused upon her recent return.
“I saw so much, I did so much, I learned so much … there were so many coincidences,” said the tall, animated young woman, talking almost non-stop about her Otzma experience.
The biggest coincidence?
Her first time in Israel was in June 2006 as part of a Birthright contingent. “We went on the March of the Living, and I had just left Poland and arrived in Israel when Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas. … What a terrible day.” Back in Israel for the first time since that trip, she was also in Israel on Oct. 18, 2011 the day that the young Israeli soldier, released from captivity in Gaza, returned home.
“It was unbelievable,” Waite said. “That entire day of Shalit’s return all of Israel focused on him — his experiences in captivity and his arrival back home…We refused to think of the prisoners released to Hamas for his freedom until the day after.”
brings 20-25- year-old Diaspora Jews to Israel for approximately a year of intense service and leadership training under the aegis of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Waite, whose mother Lynn Waite lives in Marlton, was selected as an “Otzmanik” by the Department of Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey following a series of interviews. The South Jersey Federation also helped to subsidize her participation in the program.