Simone Dinovitz, Lower Merion, Pennsylvania
Lower Moreland High School
Machon Maayan 2014-2015
Why did you choose to attend Machon Maayan?
I did not anticipate taking a gap year because I grew up in the public school system. After hearing about the seminary from my NCSY rabbi, Rabbi Levi, and having Meryl Lee meet with my parents and me in my home in Philadelphia, I felt confident that MM would be the best fit for me. I couldn’t go to a school that didn’t cater to my public school background; therefore, I was confident that with the many opportunities at Machon Maayan, including the variety of classes and stimulating schedule of internships and trips, I knew it was the only option for me. Also, hearing that I would get to go on a trip every single week with Rabbi Goldfischer, who was my director on TJJ Ambassadors in 2012 was the icing on the cake!
Where are you now?
Now I live in Bala Cynwyd, PA with my husband of six months and our new kitten! I attend Jefferson University and I am pursuing a doctorates degree in physical therapy.
Religiously, I keep a kosher home, I am shomer Shabbat, I dress tzniusly, I cover my hair, and thanks to Machon Maayan, the list goes on! I love keeping the mitzvot that I took on after my year and beyond!
What was your favorite part of Machon Maayan?
My favorite part of MM is the staff! They always gave unconditional love and support and continue to do that until today. I’ve had Rav K, Rav Zahtz, and even one of my madrichot drive out just to visit me multiple times! They make you feel so special, even as the years pass and even when they are so far away! I love the staff so much–I could literally name a list of what each one did for me and how they implicated my life but they’re too humble for that.
What is one thing you learned at Machon Maayan that sticks with you until this day?
One thing I learned at Machon Maayan that sticks with me is finding my identity. Through the classes at Machon Maayan, conversations I had with teachers and friends, and the time that I spent in the homes of olim (people who made aliya) allowed me to find my own connections to the land of israel, my people, my religion, and ultimately how I wanted to lead my life.
How has Machon Maayan affected your life?
Machon Maayan has affected every aspect of my life: from the incredible experience of a year abroad, to when I began college, and the opportunities I had by shifting everything a year. I wouldn’t be as confident in my Torah observance today and I do not know if I would be dressing tzniusly or keeping Torah mitzvot in general without Machon Maayan. At the end of my year, I knew I wanted to be an NCSY advisor and that experience was incredible for me. I made many friends and was inspired to be a role model for other teens. Being an NCSY adivisor allowed me to solidify everything I gained in Israel into a reality in America. Machon Maayan is even the reason why I met my husband! His sister went to Machon Maayan and if I would have never met her, she wouldn’t have had the idea to set us up! Pretty much, I owe everything to Machon Maayan and their WORLD-CLASS staff that I love so much!
Would you recommend someone to take a gap year?
Obviously!!! If my first few answers weren’t convincing enough:
- The time between high school and college is the PERFECT time to learn in a new way to appreciate Israel, your religion, and independence abroad.
- You are young: taking a gap year won’t put you behind–actually the opposite, you’ll receive respect from anyone you speak to!
- If you have the means to go, DO IT! You will not regret it, there is nothing like the experiences you have traveling around Israel, speaking with locals/people that made aliya, and making the best memories with forever friends (my roommates were bridesmaids at my wedding!!–friendships for life!)
Do it. Okay.