Shavei Israel dental students need your help

Shavei Israel dental students need your help

Yael Hangshing

Yael Hangshing comes to our interview direct from her job as a dental assistant in a Jerusalem clinic. A faint smell of fluoride accompanies her, although she is no longer wearing her white dental smock and mask. Her journey is an inspiring one – and not just the trip on the bus to our meeting. Through remarkable determination, she has pulled herself up, arriving in Israel as a Bnei Menashe immigrant with her family at the sensitive age of only 12, to today where she has established a successful career as a professional in Israel.

But Yael’s story isn’t over yet. She has aspirations to take her career to the next level and to train to become a full-fledged dental hygienist. With Shavei Israel’s help, that dream is on the way to becoming reality: she has enrolled in a two-year program at Hadassah Hospital’s dental school. When she graduates in 2014, she will have her pick at a job in a much-needed and understaffed profession in Israel.

Ilana Shaporker

Ilana Shaporker has also enrolled in the Hadassah dental program. Ilana comes from India as well, but she is not a Bnei Menashe. Born to a Catholic family in Kerala, Ilana decided in tenth grade to become a nun. Following her graduation from high school, she entered a convent, first in Channai, then Bangalore and eventually in France. But she was never comfortable with her decision. “I was always most interested in the Torah and the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible),” she says. “I would argue a lot with the priests and lecturers.”

Ilana’s questioning eventually resulted in her leaving the convent and converting to Judaism. She and her Indian Jewish husband made aliyah in 2010 and now Ilana, like Yael, is seeking assistance to finance her dental dreams.

Yael and Ilana are just two of the eleven students Shavei Israel is helping prepare for a new career as dental assistants or hygienists. Indeed, nearly half of the students in the Hadassah course, which begins this month, are from communities with which Shavei works.

These include women like Naomi Orkisa from the Bnei Moshe of Peru, who has been working in the fields of an Israeli mushroom farm near Jerusalem while raising a 5-year-old child on her own. Starting the Hadassah program will mean a drop in her salary of some 70 percent; she desperately needs our help.

Or Rivka Fanai, from the Bnei Menashe, who has a job assembling electric circuits in a hi-tech plant in the northern Galilee to support her disabled mother and family. She too wants to make her own aliyah (going up) to the next level of her career and join the dental program at Hadassah.

The Hadassah dental school is the best in Israel but it doesn’t come cheap. Tuition alone for the dental assistant program is more than $3,000; for the hygienist course, it is four times that. While there are some scholarships and loans available, it doesn’t cover the full amount for these brave women who are dedicated to bettering their lives and those of their families. This is why they have turned to us and we now are turning to you.

We’ll have more details about Yael, Ilana, Naomi and Rivka in the upcoming issues of our newsletter. In the meantime, won’t you consider making a donation to help our promising dental students? There can be no greater satisfaction than helping a needy student obtain the practical tools required to improve her skills, to become truly self-sufficient, and to serve as a role model for her family and other members of her community.

Please click here and make your contribution today.