The most memorable thing about Aviel is the sense of quiet dignity and strength he exudes. To mistake his soft-spoken demeanor and low voice for shyness would be to completely overlook the ease with which, at 18, and in near-perfect English, he speaks maturely about his turbulent upbringing and his experience making Aliyah with his large family when he was only 7.
He recalls, “At the beginning, I was so young, it was my first time on a plane. It was so confusing; I didn't know we had moved or what was going on.”
Then when Aviel started school in Israel, the transition was very difficult. While he adapted to the language easily, socially he was very nervous. Aviel was placed with other new Ethiopian immigrants in a special absorption class until he was ready to advance to public school and integrate with other Israelis. He learned quickly enough but, despite his interest, he had a hard time getting good grades in math. And he was still very socially constrained.
In 7th grade, Aviel joined ENP’s SPACE (School Performance and Community Empowerment) Program and discovered the holistic support system he needed. SPACE provided him with additional scholastic assistance, fostered friendships with other Ethiopian-Israelis of his age, and instilling motivation and confidence for him to move ahead.
Now an aspiring electrical engineer, since 8th grade Aviel has been tracked in a rigorous and exclusive army program for engineers. The program requires the highest level of academic achievement, and with the myriad of assistance he received through SPACE, Aviel is well on his way to his chosen career.
For more information on the IMPACT of Federation giving, visit jewishboca.org/impact.