My name is Nadia Goldman and I am truly humbled to receive the Yoni Jesner scholarship 2019-2020.
I am currently studying History, English Literature, Philosophy and Ethics at Yavneh High School Manchester, and I am so excited to spend the coming year in Midreshet Harova through Torani in Yerushalayim. Upon my return from Midreshet, I plan to study Law at the University of Birmingham which is largely driven by my intellectual excitement and equally important in my motivation, is my deep personal commitment to help the vulnerable in society. This year I investigated the laws which protect the Homeless during the severe winter weather and after discovering the lack of protective legislations, I realised the issue needed a practical response and created a glove drive for the Homeless across Greater Manchester and educated primary school children on the significance of the “Homeless Catastrophe.” I have always been involved in Bnei Akiva, which has made me feel a deep connection with Yoni sharing the same ideologies. Recently I took on a new project to ensure the continuity of Bnei Akiva in Manchester, an opportunity that allows me to keep giving back to the movement living by Yoni’s principal to “always give.”
Spending a gap year in Yerushalayim will ignite a deep connection with our country allowing me to feel the very pulse of how Israel exists and I look forward to the voluntary work I can do whilst I’m away. Having the ability to live where our ancestors did rather than merely a place to visit and appreciate Israeli culture on an everyday basis is a privilege and I am thankful to be able to live there for the year. After spending a year in Israel, I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for Judaism and Israel to the wider community.
There is no doubt in my mind that Yoni Jesner possessed an unrivalled sense of altruism, something that I aspire to replicate in my own inter-personal relations. His diligent, selfless, and compassionate nature during his short time with us, motivates me to adopt similar characteristics within my own being.
I feel truly honoured and fortunate to have the opportunity to continue Yoni’s legacy and I am hugely grateful to the Yoni Jesner foundation who enabled me to have this opportunity.
I currently attend Hasmonean where I study English Literature, Media Studies, and Politics. Next year I am planning to attend Midreshet Harova on the Bnei Akiva Torani Programme. This will, Be’ezrat Hashem, be followed by completing my national service in Israel, and then making aliyah. I then would ideally like to become a tour guide for Poland trips and Israel tours, enabling me to share my love of Israel and passion for chinuch [education].
During my time in Hasmonean I have been involved with various initiatives centred around topics such as mental health, Israel and feminism. The social action work I have been involved with has included fundraising and raising awareness for the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). This charity is close to my heart as they aim to support visually impaired people such as myself.
My passions include photography, writing, and film-making. Over the past few years I have developed a small photography business which has enabled me to work with some great charities such as JAMI, JNetics, and PaJes.
Being granted this incredible scholarship means so much to me as learning in the zechut of Yoni, someone who held such meaningful and powerful values, is a constant reminder of why our culture and land is so important to us.
Similarly to Yoni, I too am the youngest sibling in my family, am passionate about Israel and Judaism as well as love being involved with hadracha and youth groups. However, the level of warmth, thoughtfulness and humility displayed by Yoni are traits that not only inspire me but make me so incredibly thankful to have been awarded this amazing scholarship and opportunity in the zechut of Yoni.
Daniel Gillis is currently the Head of Services at Camp Simcha. In a volunteer capacity, Daniel is on the Board of Management at Edgware Adath, Hatzola Edgware member and London Ambulance Community First Responder. Daniel spent his Gap year at Yeshivat har Etzion (GUSH).
Being a Yoni Jesner Scholar means that it is my duty to continue with Yoni's legacy with my involvements in Jewish studies and communal life.
My name is Ayelet Besso-Cowan and I was one of the two Yoni Jesner Scholars in 2015/16. I spent my gap year at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY). As well as an intensive programme of shiurim, volunteering was an essential part of the programme and I chose to volunteer at Hadassah Hospital in the maternity unit, which I did every Friday. I assisted both Arabs and Jews and I know that tolerance and interfaith dialogue was something which was very important to Yoni.
It is an enormous source of pride that I was awarded the Yoni Jesner Scholarship and it drives me to try and do my bit of "tikun olam". The idea that the tragic loss of someone so young with so much potential has proved to be the source of inspiration is just unbelievable and I am proud to be a part of perpetuating Yoni's memory.
I am now studying children's nursing at City, University of London where I am also a "Widening Participation Ambassador". In this role I am encouraging children from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to University. I am also a part-time youth director at Belmont United Synagogue which allows me to share my Jewish learning which I gained throughout my gap year.
My name is Eve, I'm 26 years old and I'm a proud Yoni Jesner Scholar.
In 2008, I left London for Jerusalem and spent a year at Midreshet Harova as part of the Bnei Akiva Hachshara programme, Torani. Following my 'gap year', I completed a Psychology degree in Birmingham where I was involved with the JSOC, the wider Jewish community and campus interfaith relations. After graduating, I worked as the chinuch (education) worker for Bnei Akiva UK and enjoyed a short stint at Mitzvah Day before making Aliyah in January 2014. After an intensive period studying Hebrew in Ulpan, I coordinated Bnei Akiva gap year programmes for students from the UK and across Europe.
I am currently working as the community outreach officer for a Jerusalem based charity supporting the elderly, in addition to studying towards a masters degree in non-profit management. I am married to Josh, former fellow BA-nik and we live in Jerusalem.
For me, being a YJ scholar is an honour and serves as a reminder to do what I can to emulate Yoni's values of giving, selflessness and community.