#Meet_The_Oleh: Avital Weisinger
Aliyah Date: August 2017 Immigrated from: Teaneck, New Jersey Currently living in Jerusalem
There are many organizations and programs that support the Olim that join the IDF, AKA Lone Soldiers. But what about the women that choose to serve as "Bat-Sherut"? Do they have the same amount of support?
Avital Weisinger made Aliyah from Teaneck, New Jersey in August 2017. She lives in Jerusalem usually, but because of Corona, she has been living in Givat Shmuel. She is currently working at the Michael Levin Base as their Banot Sheirut Coordinator, and she is enrolled as a student at the Hebrew University Mechina Program.
She came to Israel and immediately joined “Sheirut Leumi” or National Service in Petah Tikvah. She was meant to teach computers to children at Shneider Hospital, but when she arrived, they asked her “What are you doing here?” There had been an error that left Avital without a job and without money, although they did let her live in her apartment.
Avital realized then and there: there are not many people helping lone banot sheirut. Girls who come to Israel for National Service did not receive the same benefits and appreciation as Lone Soldiers, although they too were devoting precious time and energy!
After her experiences, she realized she wanted to be the voice of change for banot sheirut, and created her blog, “Adventures of Avital.” On her blog, she discusses the challenges of being a lone bat sheirut, as well as the beauty and growth that comes along with it. People have thanked Avital for her blog and her help. There are now two organizations that help lone banot sheirut. ORI is one example – it’s a program to help banot sheirut through Nefesh B’Nefesh. The second is the Michael Levine Foundation (Base) – they put out equal benefits for lone soldiers and lone banot sheirut.
Banot sheirut serve an important mission in Israel. They volunteer in hospitals, in schools, and generally help the community. But they rarely get the recognition that lone soldiers get – that is, they really don’t receive much help here. Banot sheirut don’t have a uniform, and so it’s hard to distinguish them from others. Unlike lone soldiers, they don’t get rental assistance or scholarships for devoting their time.
Avital eventually switched to her dream job – creating apps for non-profit organizations throughout Israel. She had met someone on the light rail who set her up with a program – Carmel 6000. There, Avital was able to create apps that were used during Corona.
Along with this, Avital says the best part of her Aliyah was the growth of learning to navigate all these things by herself. “If I was in America,” she says, “I would not be this independent. I would be living at home, or close to home.” But here, she became more mature and passionate about a cause. Women in Tech had already been her passion, but she found a smaller niche. Banot Sheirut in the system who don’t get the respect they deserve.
Avital advises anyone who wants to make Aliyah as follows, "Don't make Aliyah unless you know you have a support system waiting for you. It could be one or two people. It will grow after, but you need someone to be there when you get there."
"Aliyah is not rainbows and butterflies. It is very difficult and not for everyone at every stage of life. I believe there are different ages and times for everyone to make Aliyah, but it might vary. Mental health is a priority. It is OK not to be OK, it is ok to struggle, it's not going to be perfect. Take the steps to follow the dream."