Bachelor’s degree in business and economics and Master’s degree
Age 33, married with two young daughters, lives in Kiryat Gat
Shoshi is passionate about her studies and is confident in her identity. Young, vibrant and focused, Shoshi – born in Israel to immigrant parents- feels as much Israeli as she does Ethiopian. Her parents made Aliyah from Ethiopia in 1984 in their late teens, married after just a few months and all her siblings were born in Israel. Shoshi remembers speaking only Hebrew at home, although she does understand Amharic and acknowledges its importance in her tradition. Shoshi descends from a well-known family of Kessim, spiritual leaders, and takes enormous pride in her grandparents and their legacy. On both her paternal and maternal lineage, Shoshi was blessed wih Kess Sahalo and Kess Worede as role models and leaders – inspirational leaders in the community who instilled in her family a strong sense of values and the importance of education.
Until the age of two, Shoshi lived in an absorption centre in Kiryat Gat. Once her family moved out, she lived in what she calls “ a regular Tzabar (native) Israeli neighborhood and remembers being friends with children from various backgrounds, many of whom were not Ethiopian Israelis. She recalls being the only Ethiopian child in her preschool and elementary school. Both culturally and mentally she never felt unique or different. She didn’t experience classic incidents of racism per say, however was often criticized for being “too white” by nature of her fitting in naturally and speaking Hebrew as her mother tongue. Since her surroundings were not only Ethiopian, she felt a sense of belonging and quite natural in both home and school settings – her private and public spheres.
Although Shoshi came from a traditional and religious upbringing imbued with a strong sense of Jewish values, Shoshi attended secular, rather than religious schools.
Although Shoshi feels very comfortable as a Tzabarit, Israeli born Ethiopian, she proudly claims that she identifies as Ethiopian first and then Israeli and works hard to enrich her family’s life with Ethiopian culture, traditions and festivals. She feels it important that her daughters know their roots and legacy and is proud to share it with them.
Shoshi’s pace and tone change ever so slightly when she begins telling me of her experience in the protests of the last few years: “People looked at me differently. For the first time, I felt a kind of stare, a sense of being different.” That was when she made a more conscious effort to give her daughters the tools to deal with the society in which we live. She teaches them respect, non-judgmental values of acceptance and compassion, empathy and generosity. “Change begins with me, each of us can do our part in our homes, our families and our communities to stand up to racism and offer compassion and respect to all”.
Shoshi always knew she would pursue academic studies. From a young age she wanted to learn and grow. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in business and economics in 2014 and got married. She admits that studying was much easier then – she had more time and energy and since they lived with her parents, they had fewer financial concerns. Now that she is completing her Master’s degree, she is working hard to juggle life as a mother to two young children, her work and intense studies. The financial and emotional struggles are certainly more intense. Despite the obvious challenges, she is incredibly positive and committed to succeeding and enjoys her studies in conflict resolution and mediation at Ben -Gurion University of the Negev very much.
She considers herself a very involved parent and as such, the decision to put her daughters into preschool to study and work did not come easily. Today, she works as a coordinator in an academic education program for young people and tries to maintain a good balance between work, family and her studies.
Her master’s degree is a gift to herself she claims. She knows it will open doors to employment opportunities and allow her to enrich herself with new knowledge and skills. As she so eloquently states: ”Knowledge is the key! It is power. Education for me will help bring about equality for myself and my community”. That statement aligns nicely with Keren Aynor’s goals and Shoshi believes that with our support, anything is possible. “I strive to be a role model for my family – with Keren Aynor’s support and encouragement I can do just that! Finding a scholarship and someone to give you that extra push is not easy these days for Ethiopian Israelis. Beginning is the important step to succeeding. KHA has given me peace of mind and room to breathe. Studying is so important and it is good to know that KHA believes in my future too.”
“I want to thank everyone at Keren Aynor for their inspiring ceremonies, their encouragement and guidance and support. You help make peoples’ dreams come true. It’s truly inspiring!”
We at KHA admire Shoshi’s determination and strong sense of values. We wish her continued success and optimism. We are here with you every step of the way and anxiously await to hear of your graduation and future work.