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Newsletter 8 – January 2017

Newsletter 8 – January 2017

Publication date: 05/02/2017

2016 Scholarship Awards

Dear Friends, Alumni and Supporters, KHA, along with leaders in the Israeli Ethiopian community, has enabled many to pursue a higher and professional education. For the past 23 years,   Keren Hanan Aynor has provided 3300 grants to bright and highly motivated students to successfully acquire an academic and professional degree. For our graduates, their degree is not merely a personal achievement; these talented individuals serve as role models for their own home communities and within general Israeli society as well. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our generous donors, caring individuals, families and foundations whose partnership and dedication help make dreams come true each and every day.


2016 Scholarship Awards Ceremony Keren Aynor is proud to share we recently celebrated our 23rd Annual Scholarship Distribution Ceremony at Yad Ben Tzvi in  Jerusalem’s pastoral Rehavia neighbourhood where we  distributed scholarships to 178 talented and motivated Ethiopian Israeli students in over 50 fields of study, several of which are new areas of study this year.  This number is twice the amount of scholarships we were able to distribute last year and we hope to continue to grow and develop in coming years.  The evening was a huge success, complete with traditional Ethiopian delicacies, music and dancing lead by Aveva Dessa, Chanuka candle lighting, inspirational speeches by our Chairperson Tsega Melaku along with several awards and honourary designations.
The stormy weather did not prevent us from savouring a warm and intimate environment filled with hope  for the future.
This, our 23rd ceremony, was the first we celebrated without our matriarch and visionary leader Sarah Aynor (of blessed memory).  We took a moment to honour her memory and will be sure that her legacy at that of her husband’s, Hanan Aynor (of blessed memory) will live on within the light of each and every one of our incredibly optimistic and capable students and they strive towards future endeavours.

Some interesting facts about our students this year:
*50 men
*128 women

*64 single
*96 married
*18 single parents

*27 are studying vocational training
*107 Bachelors degrees
*38 Masters degrees
*6 PHD, post doc or other advanced degrees such as: Dentistry, Health Sciences Education, Law and Philosophy

We wish all of our students the best of luck in their studies in the coming year!

Over the past few decades, over 100 Keren Aynor  scholarship recipients have studied at the Kiryat ONO Academic College located in Central Israel.  This year, 14 of our students are currently studying at the College and we are pleased to continue this ongoing trend and success rate.

We look forward to additional partnerships in the future with Sappir Academic College in Southern Israel reaching the peripheral communities and our ongoing partnership with “Start Up Lhatzlacha” in Beer Sheva

Motivating future leaders in the Ethiopian Israeli community is a joint endeavour and a source of pride and inspiration!

Sarah Aynor (z”l):  Education For All!
An Interview with Tsega Melaku, Keren Aynor’s Chairperson

I could not think of any better way to honour Sarah Aynor’s passing than to interview Tsega Melaku, Keren Aynor’s Chairperson, a dear friend of Sarah’s and one of the Fund’s first scholarship recipients over 22 years ago.

When we met, Tsega choked backed tears and told me she works hard not to tear up each time  she thinks of Sarah.  It was just this past November, the week when we read of our Jewish matriarch Sarah in the Shabbat Torah reading that we parted with Keren Hanan Aynor’s Sarah, a visionary woman.  For Tsega, Sarah’s family, the staff, board members and thousands of scholarship recipients, her death seems too fresh.
Parallels abound as friends and family accompanied Sarah Aynor to her resting place and we thought of the traditional matriarch Sarah whose life is chronicled in the Torah.  How seemingly appropriate that our Sarah left this world that day.

Tsega sips her coffee and shares with me many wonderful and heartfelt stories of Sarah, the woman, the mother, the wife, the founder, the visionary: A woman who lived by her principles both personally and professionally to her last day.

One could not help but to swept away by the moving and familial relationship Tsega shared with Sarah, a friendship so deep and meaningful, their lives remained intertwined for over two decades – the daily calls, weekly visits, family events, shared secrets and much more, as though they had chosen one another to be true friends – two women forever connected.

Each day Sarah would call Tsega telling her of a recent news event or something of interest in the Ethiopian Israeli community.  The women would discuss the issues, laugh and think of ways to incorporate the item into an action plan for change.  For Sarah, education was a tool for change, a means of success, encouraging leadership.  For Sarah, academic parents were positive role models for children and the future incorporating of Ethiopian Israeli children as full citizens in Israeli society.
As Tsega so poignantly described, Sarah’s generosity was not about the money; rather a means to motivate and encourage talented young people to become successful in future endeavours.  Tsega said it best:” Sarah was born to give and Keren Hanan Aynor was a tool to help support the future leaders of Israel.”  

Everywhere Sarah and Tsega went together – whether a film, concert, children’s enrichment activity etc, Sarah would make certain Ethiopian Israelis had a place.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer.   In her opinion, Ethiopian Israelis should be active and involved at level level of society. Sarah would find creative and new ways to make certain opportunities were created for Ethiopians to become bus drivers, soccer champions, doctors, researchers and famous poets. Sarah called them, “portzei derech” a Hebrew expression for the trail blazers – those individuals who would make a difference in their field- whether they are the first Ethiopian Israelis to do so or not.  In her creative and determined way, Sarah made certain everyone found their place! Sarah was inventive and passionate and a great listener.  She offered support, not only to her students, but to their families as well.  As Tsega so eloquently shared with me: “:Sarah’s life work was the Fund – in her caring and optimistic way, she gave each student a home away from home and the support to reach for their dreams”.

There is something incredibly inspiring about hearing Tsega’s memories, woven together like a tapestry of love and compassion, rich with colours bright like the students’ futures.  Sarah was proud of Tsega, one of the first scholarship recipients, she herself become a role model in her own family and her community, not to mention her role in Israeli society as a whole.  Tsega’s son is studying to be a doctor, the same one who played on Sarah’s living room floor 22 years ago when Tsega was studying herself.  L’dor l dor.  From generation to generation.  Tsega is the personification of everything Sarah worked for.

Sarah Aynor’s legacy will live on in each of the students she supported.  She truly was a special woman, a woman of conviction and love.  And as Tsega said to me time and again while we spoke in the most loving way  “That was our Sarah…”

May Sarah’s memory be a blessing and may the work of the Fund continue in her spirit for many years to come…

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