They Went 'Back to School'
By Yael Kedar– Yedioth Ahronoth (28.08.20)
Tamara Doron (in photo at left), a counselor for immigrant students who come to live and study at Hadassim on the Naaleh Program, and Orna Shimon (right) , a teacher and subject coordinator at Hadassim, answered questions about memories from their Hadassim school days and what its like to return to their former school as educators.
When did you study at Hadassim?
Tamara: From 2006-2009. I graduated 11 years ago.
Orna: I studied at Hadassim from the 7th grade, from 1974.
Why did you decide to come back to work at Hadassim? What was it like to work at the place you went to school at?
Tamara: As a student I received everything at the youth village: help with my studies, extracurricular activities, emotional support - and as a bonus I also met my husband-to-be Vlad here when we were in the 10th grade. We got married 5 years ago. I wanted to give back to Hadassim for all that I received and so just three days after I completed my IDF service, I returned to Hadassim to work at the youth village. Now I am starting my 9th school year here. As a new immigrant from South Africa who came to Israel at the age of 12, it is an honor and an emotional 'closing of the circle' for me to serve as a counselor for the immigrant youth on the Naaeleh program.
For me the youth village was - and still is - a warm home and a huge safety net and that's exactly what I and the amazing staff lovingly give to the students. It's just like our slogan says, "You've come to Hadassim, you've come home!"
Orna: As a student, I felt like I was home, a home that gave me love and taught me values. That being said, I could only really appreciate Hadassim once I had been away from it for some time. It was natural for me that during my university studies I began to see Hadassim as an ideal place for me to return to. I remember how emotional it was for me to meet again the teachers who once taught me, but this time not as a student, rather as colleagues. At first I was nervous to talk to my former math teacher, whom I admired but was also a little scared of, to discuss a student we both taught. But I was warmly taken in by the entire staff. The staff is amazaing and unlike any other.anywhere.
Can you tell us about a specific experience or person you remember from your school days?
Tamara: My dorm counselor, Orly. When I arrived at the youth village I wasn't the best student, but she believed in me very strongly. As a girl, I loved to dance and Hadassim gave me the opportunitiy to develop my talent in the school's dance track and arranged private dance lessons for me. Orly really pushed me to succeed.
Orna: I was a soloist in the Hadassim choir. We performed all over Israel and on TV and we made several albums which helped spread the word about Hadassim.I remember one very big concert in the Jerusalem Convention Center.
How do you get ready for another school year in the shadow of the Coronavirus?
Tamara: At Hadassim, which is both a school and a youth village, we got ready on two fronts. We must allow the dorm students to continue to live together while maintaining the highest health standards. I must note that since the Coron pandemic began in Israel, the youth villages, including Hadassim, stayed open and continued to provide solutions for the students, including the immigrant youth from the Naaleh program who could not travel abroad to return to their families. We mobilized quickly in order to allow those student to remain living at Hadassim safely. We all stayed with the students, the educational staff, the nurse, the kitchen staff, the maintenance staff and more because a youth village is a full world of dedicated people who really care about their students.
Orna: We worked throught the holiday. The staff received detailed instructions and guidance. Even though I know we must adjust to partial remote teaching, but I still feel nothing can replace the personal contact and connection of teachers and student being in the same classroom, of looking students in the eyes, of being together.
What do you love most about your work?
Tamara: The youth, to see the growing they do and their development.
Orna: The connection with the students.As a teacher in language and literature, I feel a great sense of accomplishment, I was honored to accompany a group of students to Germany and to accompany a few groups on their trips to Poland.
Translated by Yonatan Sredni