April 15, 2024
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Shalhevet Abenaim Makes Connections for Life at MMY

Shalhevet Abenaim is studying at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim in Jerusalem. She was born in Montreal, made aliyah with her family at a young age to Beit Shemesh, before moving to Teaneck two years later. She attended Yavneh and Yeshivat Noam for elementary school, and Ma’ayanot for high school. Her family davens at Bnai Yeshurun’s Moroccan minyan.

Her next stop? If she has the willpower to leave Israel, McGill University in Montreal.

I’m currently attending Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim and I love it! Around this time last year I was thinking about what I wanted to gain from my year in Israel, and I was absolutely torn. I was lucky enough to have a chance to visit some of the seminaries, and I fell in love with MMY’s atmosphere. I wanted an academic environment where I could grow spiritually through learning, since that has always been the way I’ve connected with Judaism. I also wanted a diverse environment where I could be exposed to different types of teachers, classmates and subjects. I wanted a school that would take me seriously and push me to be a thinker and, so far, MMY has done that exactly.

More than anything, I wanted a year that would help me discover the kind of person I wanted to be in the future. I wanted to reach a point in my life where I felt a strong connection to davening (it’s a work in progress), and where I would feel intellectually capable of opening a sefer and learning it on my own.

During one of my first weeks here I went to visit my second cousins in Petach Tikvah whom I hadn’t seen for over six years. On Erev Shabbat we went to visit a shul that was named after my great-grandfather and had been rebuilt in the same exact spot of the shul that he once davened at years ago. Being one of the only Moroccan Jews in my community, I haven’t had many real connections to my roots growing up, but seeing that shul not only brought me closer to my culture, but to the State of Israel as a whole. It was an incredibly beautiful and inspiring experience.

I’d say that the hardest part for me is not being able to speak with my family as often as I’m used to. I’m the oldest of three sisters, and we’re all extremely close. I miss my family, but I also know that this is my time to grow as my own person and I need to focus on that.

I didn’t think I would form such great bonds with my teachers here. I’ve only ever had two or three teachers in my life whom I’ve had solid relationships with, and the fact that the entire staff at MMY is open to forming relationships with anyone is mind-boggling.

I think, before coming, that I assumed my Hebrew was pretty good since I lived in Israel for two years, have a bit of an Israeli accent, and did pretty well in Hebrew class in school. I was oh-so-terribly wrong! I had a real reality check when I got here, but it’s been great.

Honestly, anywhere new is fun for me. Seeing different types of people and communities is my favorite pastime.

I really connect to my Halachot B’Darcho: Musagim MeChaye HaNevi’im teacher Mrs. Galertner. I find that I connect strongly to the way she thinks, since I’m a very self-aware person, and we do a lot of self-reflection in her class. She’s somebody I already feel I can talk to about almost anything, and it’s only been two months. However, I happen to admire all of my teachers, and even teachers at MMY whose classes I don’t take. The staff here is truly exceptional.

I love my Gemara class with Rabbi Katz. Gemara has always been one of my more challenging subjects, and I can already see my skills improving. It’s also the type of class where we have a lot of group discussions, which also happen to be extremely interesting.

I look forward to strengthening my learning skills, making new friends, as well as forming greater relationships with my teachers. However, the top two things I would say I’m looking forward to the most are simply feeling inspired by my classes and teachers more and more every day, along with growing to appreciate Israel as my true home.

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