Midreshet Amit

My Year at Midreshet AMIT: Reflections by Amanda Schaum

My year at Midreshet AMIT has been unforgettable! Between the teachers, the girls, the country and mostly the kids, this year has been amazing!. The teachers at Amit are some that I'll never forget. I remember asking one in particular to have a chavruta and she looked at me with this huge smile and said of course! We learned from 3 different sefarim and got a lot of information in. I can honestly say it's because of her that I feel so accomplished in my independent learning for the year. I really feel a change in myself through all of time we sat together learning and talking. However, I knew I couldn't possibly go through the year without forming a connection with a Rabbi as well. It wasn't long before I found a Rabbi that I formed an instant connection with. That particular class started with only a few girls so right away I felt comfortable joking around with him and talking about anything. It's easy to say that most of the laughs from this year came from this Rabbi as well as many of my life lessons.

The school overall was absolutely amazing. The love for Israel that they instill in us is unique. They understand that aliyah isn't for everyone but they also know that it's important to realize the significance of the country and how lucky we are to even have the option to live here right now. While sitting around and shmoozing I heard most of the girls say how they never even considered aliyah before this year. It's because of how passionate the teachers are about Israel that it's rubbed off on us. I really do plan to make aliyah within the next 5 years. After living in Israel almost an entire year it's hard to picture myself living anywhere else especially after getting to know the kids. Its no secret that the kids in Beit Hayeled are what makes the program what it is. I could go on for days with stories about my kids but I'll spare everyone and keep it to a minimum. I remember my first time with the kids. We were making sukkah decorations. I didn't realize that the sherut leumi girl was a sherut leumi girl. I thought she was a kid. Needless to say it was a bit awkward when I came back after sukkot and she was helping run the family. I thought..wow I have the best kids ever. They help run the family. Turns out she wasn't a kid but I soon realized I did have the best kids in the entire world but for different reasons. What most of you probably don't know is that even though these kids are so underprivileged, they have hearts bigger than anyone I have ever met. The hugs they showered me with everyday never got old and the cute little shalom I received each time I passed them was always as cute as the last.

I worked with 12 kids. Orel, Ahron, Avichai, Lidor, Moshe, Roni, Oshri, Uriel, Shiran, Orel, Koral, and Hodaya. I would just like to say something small about each one of them They deserve for people to know just how amazing they are.

First I'll start with Orel. I have two Orel's. One boy and one girl. I'm going to start with the boy because he's the oldest in the family. Orel was that kid that when you walked into Beit Hayeled, you may have felt afraid of him! Although he seemed a little intimidating at first, when I really sat down with him and got to know him, we shared plenty of laughs. I never thought he cared to hang out with me or spend time with me but when I was saying goodbye to the family before Pesach I went into 2 out of the 3 rooms and had long goodbyes. When I went into the third room I was expecting it to be a quick goodbye because I simply wasn't as close with the 4 boys in that room. Out of nowhere Orel yells at me - "mah zeh ?! Hayeet ba cheder hashniya bishvil shaatayim ! Az achshav At tzricha lehiyot po gam lisha'atayim ! Shvi !" I've never been so happy to take a command.

Next in the line up is Ahron. Ahron was unique because he was the only kid in Beit Hayeled to have come from America. His family made aliyah and then a few years later he came to Beit Hayeled. Naturally because he spoke the same language as me, I got to know him really quickly. One time when I got on the bus back from the mall he was on the bus with me but he wouldn't talk to me. Later I came back and said to my friend, "Did you know I was on the bus with Ahron today?" She said "Really?" And I said "Yeah but he refused to talk to me!" Ahron heard us and responded, "I can't talk to her its embarrassing! She's a gingi!" Its was okay, I still really really love him.

After Ahron comes Avichai. Unfortunately Avichai didn't return from school until very late each day so I didn't get to spend that much time with him. I can say though, from the time I did spend with him, this boy's smile can light up a city. He is simply the happiest most beautiful boy. Never with a frown on his face, he's always just laughing and having a good time. I can't put into words how happy I was my second to last Shabbat in Israel when I went with my kids to the park. The walk home was the best part of my day because I finally got to spend a significant amount of time with Avichai. We had a great conversation, one that I'll never forget.

The next boy after Avichai is Lidor. Lidor is just that boy that no matter what can always give you a great laugh. He constantly has a joke up his sleeve and a smile to put on your face. When the end of the year began to approach he was the one always making sure we weren't leaving just yet. He made sure we stayed until the last possible second. He definitely knows how to make the most of everything.

When I first began working with the kids in October, Roni wasn't part of the family. The first day I met him he came over to me and said "Hi I'm Roni - I don't speak Hebrew." I thought to myself that this is perfect! Another English speaker so I responded hi! My name is Amanda! And he laughed in my face saying "Stam! Ani rak midabair Ivrit!" I remember thinking to myself that he fooled me! . Now a few months later, Roni couldn't put a bigger smile on my face. He's definitely a keeper.

Next comes Oshri. At the beginning I couldn't understand Oshri because all of the other kids were just so easy going besides for Oshri. Oshri was super sensitive so I was nervous to get close to him. When I finally did, it really paid off. He would call my name just to show me some toy he had, or something cool he could do, and all I could do was sit there with the biggest smile on my face. He really was someone to be proud of. It's true he's more sensitive than the rest of the other boys but that's one of the things that makes him so sweet.

Youngest of them all is Uriel. Everyone at Midreshet AMIT knew the love I have for this boy. He is the cutest little 10 year old boy. From the very first day, he was my kid. He was the one that I spent most of my time with. I always helped him with his homework and we always just talked and laughed. When I told him I was leaving but I didn't want to his response was "Lama at ozevet? Lo tzricha. Teesha'ar kahn eetee." (Why are you leaving? You don't need to. Stay here with me!) We really had a special connection one that can never be broken.

ne word that describes Shiran is loud! She loves letting everyone know that she has entered the room. She is always walking around at night in her yellow pajamas looking like a banana, talking and singing always making it easy to be around her. Her attempted English is definitely adorable as well as commendable.

Next is Orel. The first Shabbat we spent with the family, Orel and I instantly connected. After giving her a couple of massages, she began to love me very quickly. Every time I walked in she wanted me to hang with her and only her. When saying goodbye to her for Pesach she refused to let me leave. She is the most loving girl in the world.

After Orel comes Koral. The other 3 girls weren't so nice to Koral. Sometimes they'd gang up against her and be mean to her but she always just wanted to be their friend. She has a huge heart and never let the mean things get her down. Although she's only 11, her strength is something I admire and aspire to have.

Last but not least of the girls is Hodaya. The smallest of the bunch and yet hair that can go on for miles. Hodaya is Orel's little side kick and let me say, they look very cute together. She truly knows what being a best friend is all about. Anytime anyone is upset she rushes over to make sure they're okay. She's really the cutie pie of the 12.

And now for Moshe. Moshe, like Roni, didn't begin in Beit Hayeled and I also had an interesting first encounter with him. He decided that the first 4 times I met him, it would be funny to shriek in my ear. I never would have thought that 5 months later, Moshe would be the kid I am closest to. The boy just lights up my world. Anytime I think about him a smile comes to my face. Whenever I passed him in the halls he always stopped to say, Amanda can you be with me today? Without hesitation I say of course, always. When it came time for Purim, the biggest holiday of the year, the family was dressing up together and the whole Beit Hayeled was having a big dinner but Moshe didn't want to go. I decided to approach him and after talking for a few minutes I told him that if he wasn't going then neither would I. He ended up deciding that we should both go and we had a fabulous time! A few weeks later was his birthday. Most people are excited for their own birthdays but not me. I had a countdown going for Moshe's. I couldn't wait to give him the present I made for him. Moshe loves to write songs so I made him a binder with his name on it and put paper inside so he could write all of his music in it. I will never forget how happy he was when I gave it to him. Every time he wrote a new song, he would come find me anywhere in the building and make me come look. I really don't have words for the feeling I had all those times. Now weeks later I've parted with him and it's the saddest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. I dreaded the moment for weeks.
Although, you don't know my kids in Beit Hayeled , I hope that I've been able to share with you what a year at Midreshet Amit is all about. It really was a year filled with Torah, happiness, excitement, experiences, culture, and love. It's true that every school has their fun times, their bad times, their happy times, and their sad times, but no other school has kids that are standing by you every step of the way making those memories with you. The journey I had this year is one in a million.