Midreshet Amit

My Year at AMIT, Allison Billet, 2011-12

When I decided to attend Midreshet Amit, I did not know what to expect. I had never even thought about going on a program like this, nor have I ever even been to Israel. I was really nervous, however, I am so happy that I was able to come and experience an incredible year.

The learning at Midreshet Amit was really inspirational and informative. With such wonderful teachers, it is no wonder that I came back to America feeling inspired and that I really learned a lot. One of my favorite classes was Issues in Modern Jewish Philosophy. This class was something that wasn't just basic facts, but something that I had never really done before. It really got me to actually think and actually absorb the information that I learned. Another interesting class was The David Project. The David Project is an Israel Advocacy group and in this class we learned ways in which we can advocate for Israel on college campuses.

The unique part of Midreshet Amit, however, is working with the children of Beit Hayeled. These children came from troubled families and because of their dangerous home environment, the government sends them live in Beit Hayeled. Beit Hayeled provides each child with a 'family' and the children grow up in a safe environment. There are ten Mishpachot, or families at Beit Hayeled with ten to twelve kids per family. Each family includes parents [with their own biological children] and Midreshet Amit girls. Every day we would help the children with their homework, have special activities with them, or just hang out. Being with the children of Beit Hayeled was an experience that I will never ever forget. Although in the beginning, it was quite difficult to connect with them, especially with the language barrier, the kids eventually opened up and felt more comfortable around me. There was one child in particular, Lielle, who was very closed off to me in the beginning. When I would try to say hello to him, he never really answered and I felt like he did not really like me. However, after Passover break when I came back to Israel from America, he came up to me and gave me a big hug. It was at this moment that I realized that even if you are not connecting with the child 100%, every time we come and see the kids, it makes such a huge difference in their lives. They notice that we actually care about them. Each hello, or shalom can make their day. Some of my favorite moments with these children was Shabbos and other holidays. About once a month, we were able to spend Shabbos in our school and have meals with our kids. Everyone really enjoyed sitting around the table, putting our arms around each other singing Shabbos songs. Holidays such as Purim and Lag Baomer were my two favorite times with the children. The whole month of Adar in Israel is a Purim celebration. At Beit Hayeled, we had tons of activities during with them this month. One day, we had an Under the Sea themed party with dinner. Each family had to dress up as something different that was under the sea related. My family was dressed as scuba divers. The most special thing about the costumes was that they were all homemade. Everything was so creative and amazing. We had so much fun dressed up together and taking tons of pictures. Another fun Purim activity was a carnival that we helped run for the kids. There were different games and food stations set up around the building that the kids enjoyed so much and which we enjoyed running. Lag Baomer was my absolute favorite time with the kids. During the nighttime, we went out and each family had a bonfire together. The next day, we went to a park, had a barbeque picnic and just hung out. We spent a beautiful day in Israel having a blast. Being with these children of course made a difference in their lives, but also a tremendous difference in my life. Seeing them every day, being able to put a smile on their faces gave me an indescribable feeling. I loved when I would go to them and they would ask if I could help them with their math or english homework. In the beginning, I had to approach them and ask if they needed help, so when they eventually would ask me to help them every day, I knew that I was making a difference. One girl in particular, Malka, who was always good at math, still asked me to help her and look over her work. Even though she may have not needed my help, she still asked me to and wanted to spend more time with me.

One thing that added to my experience with Beit Hayeled is the parents of my Beit Hayeled family, also called the Zug. Although these are not their biological parents, these Beit Hayeled parents are in effect the real family to these kids.They care for the Beit Hayeled children as well as their own children and truly love them. These parents are probably the most amazing individuals I have ever met. They both work so hard to keep these children happy, while instilling great values within them. Throughout all of their hard work, they are always smiling and seem legitimately happy. They were not only parents to the children, but also to me, as well as the other Midrasha girls. I always felt so comfortable when I went to see the children because of them. They are truly amazing people that deserve nothing but the best.

As my time with the Beit Hayleled children went on, I began to wonder what would happen to them when they were too old for Beit Hayeled. Thankfully, our school took us on a trip to show us the high school version of Beit Hayeled. Located in Petach Tikvah, Kfar Blatt is where they go when they are too old for Beit Hayeled. The setup for Kfar Blatt is pretty similar to that of Beit Hayeled. There are families with about 20 boys or girls to each family. It was comforting to know that the Beit Hayeled children will always have someplace to go within the AMIT family. Knowing how hard it is for the children at their actual homes, I am so happy that they have a place to be and that I was able to help make their lives better.

My experience at Midreshet Amit at Beit Hayeled was remarkable. It may sound cliche, but doing this really gave me such a warm feeling. When I saw that I can make these children with such difficult backgrounds so happy and make them smile, it was easy for me to become happier, especially if I was not having such a great day. I feel that these children or more then just my Beit Hayeled kids. They have become my friends. They have become my second family. They are amazing people that I will never forget.