New Bat Ami finds niche

By Esther Levy, 9th Grade

From Kfar Vradim, a small Israeli town located south of the border with Lebanon, 19-year-old Aviya Cohen joined Shalhevet on Jan. 12. Aviya came to replace Ravit Roseman, who returned to Israel in November complaining of homesickness.

In the year and a half before coming to Shalhevet, Aviya volunteered helping students at a school near her hometown. 

“It’s different in Los Angeles and at Shalhevet, but everyone in the community is so friendly, which helps a lot.” Aviya said. 

Aviya heard about Shalhevet from her lifelong friend, Sara Borenstein, Shalhevet’s other Bat-Ami. A Bat Ami — literally, “daughter of my people” — is a religious high school graduates who does public service for Israel rather than serve in the army.  Possibilities for the service include being an educational ambassador abroad.

When Sara told Aviya about Shalhevet’s search for a new Bat-Ami, she instantly volunteered. A panel of teachers and students from the middle and high school interviewed her over the internet and decided she would be a wonderful new Bat Ami.

“Shalhevet sounded like a very interesting school to me,” Aviya said. “Everyone seemed so amazing and welcoming.”

She hopes to gain good friendships as she begins to discover her place and longs to influence and affect the students. 

“Nothing is like I expected,” Aviya said.

She struggled with the culture clash between Shalhevet and her hometown school, but is beginning to gradually adjust to and enjoy the differences — faster than expected, she said, because she had Sara to fill her on everything.  And Shalhevet does bear some resemblance to her high school back in Kfar Vradim.

“Everyone eats lunch together, and there is a great feel of Achdut and Ahavat Israel in Shalhevet and my high school,” Aviya stated. 

Aviya enjoys being a Bat-Ami and creating activites for the students. Bat-Ami are religious high school graduates who help at Jewish schools out of Israel rather than serve in the army.

Having a new Bat-Ami around has been a tremendous amount of help for Bat-Ami Sara Borenstein, who now has someone to help her formulate projects and ideas for school activities.  Sara said her work load is lightened now that Aviya has arrived. 

“She’s really awesome and special,” Sara said. “She gives me a lot of new ideas. I feel like we have started to strengthen each other.” 

Aviya has a passion for music and plays the piano and the guitar. She enjoys listening to Coldplay, U2, R.E.M, and other bands and said SpongeBob Squarepants is her favorite T.V show.

“She’s great and has a very positive attitude,” 8th grader Avital Sabo said, “Some Bat-Ami are shy at first, but she’s immediately friends with everyone.”