The Jewish Agency announced its pullout, in the amount of $4,000,000 per annum for the higher education benefits of olim, and the disastrous consequences of this for the Student Authority, who doles the scholarships to student olim. At first I was shocked and angry. Then I was saddened. Then I considered the Jewish Agency, their current financial crisis and newly adopted vision.
Then I remembered what it was like when I was a student receiving the assistance of funding from the Student Authority, as entitled in my absorption basket. I considered how that assistance saved me. I remembered how hard I worked as a student, with no parental support, barely able to make ends meet, and certainly unable to afford the education that I chose. I admit, I studied at the Interdisciplinary Center, and as such paid much higher tuition than probably any other higher education institution in Israel. I am not ashamed to say that without everything that I had gained from my education at the IDC, I would have never gotten to where I am today, and certainly not have been able to help and to meet as many people as I have over the years.
I considered my classmates, many of whom, like me, followed up their educations with careers in government, diplomacy, the Jewish world, international organizations, and other bodies in which they have been able to profoundly and positively affect our world, on the local, state, and international levels.
Then I considered how many of us received financial assistance from the Student Authority to help us make it through those bread and water years. Exact numbers, I cannot give you. It was none of my business. Yet I studied in an international school, and the sweeping majority of us were international students. I am willing to place some of my education assistance on the assumption that a fair majority of us olim received assistance from the Student Authority.
I admit, though I very much appreciated the assistance received, I had always taken for granted that it would always be there for olim who needed it. Yet now, it has become clear that even this can be taken away.
I attempt to consider the consequences of tampering with higher education assistance for olim. The fact that some people will not make Aliya, or wait until a later, more settled period in their lives; a period in which they have already had career paths set out for them, and thus miss out on those experiences that set us into the direction of choosing careers and professions that will directly benefit our home and our people. More so, I think about those students who will never become their true potential, who will never affect our country at the level that those of us who were given the lifeline/ assistance to attain our diplomas in higher education are able to. What a loss, such a shame!
We come to Israel and dedicate ourselves to our country. We dedicate our lives and our future professions to enhancing our homeland. Unfortunately, what I can only assume is political short sightedness; Israel is considering shooting her own future self in the foot. Taking away aid for higher education cripples many of us from achieving out true potentials and helping our home and people. All olim are affected by this, it is not just an “Anglo” issue. Much of the Student Authority’s assistance over the years has been to help olim from more impoverished states to receive the chance at a higher education.
Though I seriously doubt that any dollar value can be placed on this, I venture to assume that the $4,000,000 that the Jewish Agency contributes, and the approximate $17,000,000 in total funding, that will be lost, does not even come close to the quantifiable monetary loss in future potential that will never become, and will never impact our Israel, our people, and our world.