RAJEing since 2007
In Estonia in the late 1980s, "it was hard to get
a job, own property, or even go to school as a
Jew." It's hardly a wonder that Marianna and
her family immigrated to the States in 1995,
and also not surprising that she was raised
After high school, Marianna visited Israel with Birthright, and extended
her trip to visit family. Staying in a hostel in Jerusalem, she met two girls
from Brighton Beach. Biana Lupa, a RAJE alumna, told her, "When you
get back, you have to join this program."
After completing the first level of RAJE - Leadership Fellowship
program, Marianna was not able to go to Israel on a RAJE trip due
to her busy schedule with work and school. Marianna nevertheless
continued her studies at RAJE, completing the Madrichim Advanced
Leadership program the first semester it was offered. "For my first RAJE
trip I went as a Madricha." While the trip was exciting, what Marianna
appreciated the most at RAJE was "feeling of being part of the family."
Since then, she goteven further involved. RAJE has been "like a home
away from home: The connectedness to each other and the whole
feeling of family is reinforced by learning about our common history,
and it's a powerful feeling."
Marianna has given back to her own community in many ways: learning
with new students as a mentor, volunteering to help with recruiting
and accounting, and helping out at Shabbatons. When she saw that
there was a need for a library of books on Jewish and Israel history
and philosophy, she took the initiative to start the RAJE library: "I put
it together with some of the staff's donated books as well as books
purchased with my own charity money." By the time the books were
ready to be placed on the shelves, the whole community had come
together behind her project: "The whole community came out to put the
library together- it was amazing to see."
For Marianna, there are surely even more amazing things to come.