Photo Credits: Herschel Guttman
For more information about PRAS Registration for the 2016/2017 Academic Year, click HERE
Some 130 students, together with Telfed staff members, PRAS families and other members of the community gathered at the IDC in Herzliya on Friday 13th November for the grand opening ceremony of the 2015/2016 PRAS Student Mentoring Bursary programme. Amongst the attendants were Telfed Chairman, Maish Isaacson; Head of the Endowments and Scholarships Committee, Batya Shmukler; Aliyah and Klita Coordinator, Susan Sharon; Endowments and Scholarships Committee members, Shelly Cohen and Barry Kornel and Telfed staff member, Tasha Elliston. Although the gathering was large, the atmosphere was intimate and friendly with a buzz of excitement in the air.
PRAS Coordinator, Hadas Kline
Head of the PRAS Programme, Hadas Kline, who has taken over the reigns this year following the maternity leave of former Head Dana Levy Tavor, expertly organized the successful event. Commenting on the morning’s proceedings she said: ”this was a most fitting kick-off to one of Telfed’s most popular projects” she added that she was “excited to be involved and was looking forward to the year ahead.”
The PRAS Student Mentoring Programme represents a unique approach to offering community service coupled with a substantial bursary to students who would like to volunteer and assist Olim with their absorption. The Telfed PRAS student bursaries are awarded to those students who can commit to doing 94 hours of community service per academic year. The Hebrew word “PRAS” means a prize and the PRAS Programme is all about teaching students the ethics of give and take and how giving to the community is a prize in itself.
Photo: PRAS Coordinators
PRAS students are hand-picked from almost 400 applicants after lengthy personal interviews to ensure a right “fit” for the scheme. This year, a record 115 families and 160 students have enrolled to participate in the scheme. This is also the year with the largest proportion of Southern African students enrolled on the programme: a massive 96 out of the 160 students are of SA origin! In addition, there are a large number of continuing students this year with over a third of the 2015/2016 PRAS students embarking on the scheme for a second, third and in some cases, fourth time. It is a true tribute to this unique programme and an indication of how much satisfaction participants derive from the scheme, that so many former PRAS students are enrolling in the programme in consecutive years - and are also recommending it to family and friends.
Throughout the academic year PRAS students mainly volunteer within the Olim community helping them to adapt and integrate into life in Israel. Some students mentor and assist adult Olim, encouraging them to refine and enhance their Hebrew-language skills and to adjust to Israeli culture, which helps make their Klita process smoother. Other students act as a “big brother/sister” to Oleh children, helping them with homework, exams and in their social activities. Other students assist the elderly or people with special needs either at their homes or in institutions. This takes place all over Israel. This year the students who are not placed with families will be volunteering in other worthy organizations, such as the Merkaz Klita (absorption centre) in Beer Sheva, Beth Protea (home for the elderly in Herzliya), Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem and various schools around the country.
Photo: Telfed Chairman Maish Isaacson addresses the students
Following welcome speeches by Maish Isaacson, Batya Shmukler and Hadas Kline the participants were divided into groups according to their regions and met their regional coordinators who took the opportunity to introduce themselves and get to know the students, as well as to speak about expectations and policies and most importantly, to make sure that all students begin the year with a smile!
Photo: Head of the Endowments and Scholarships Committee Batya Shmukler addresses the gathering
This year's PRAS coordinators are Ilan Abel, (Sharon region), Elisha Babian (Jerusalem region), Yifat Delsuz (Centre and South), and Shirin Pogrebensky (Tel Aviv and North). We wish all the coordinators and students much success in their tasks and studies over the coming year.
Following the regional meetings, students were divided into groups of new students and continuing students. Speeches were given by Adele Bassin, who spoke about “The immigrant’s journey” to the new students and Michal Merten who spoke on the topic of why “An old tree should not be uprooted” to the seasoned students.
2015/ 2016 already looks set to be a wonderful year for PRAS – good luck to all the students and the families enrolled!