Chani Oirechman at JFK International Airport on July 13 in New York moments before she boarded the plane to Israel. (photo by Shahar Azran)
On July 13, a Nefesh b’Nefesh-chartered flight left New York’s JFK International Airport carrying 221 new immigrants (olim). Among them was Chani Oirechman, 17, from Vancouver.
The Jewish Independent spoke with Oirechman soon after she arrived in Israel.
JI: Do you have Zionist ideals?
CO: Yes. I believe that the land G-d gave our forefathers many years ago is our land, and it’s not just any piece of land but it actually has a special holiness that is unique to Israel. Even other nations recognize this – it is no coincidence that other nations fight for this small piece of land. This land has been blessed like no other land.
JI: Were any of your family members survivors of the Holocaust?
CO: Yes, unfortunately. My great-grandfather was a Holocaust survivor from Poland, who escaped during the early stages of the war, making the long journey to Eretz Yisrael. It is a great honor for me to be coming back to Israel, which was his dream at the time. I think this is our victory over Hitler; we survived, built families and we even have the land that is rightfully ours in our control to which we can freely return.
JI: What do you intend to do with your degree from the Jerusalem College of Technology?
CO: I hope this will help channel my talents, giving me the tools to succeed in my personal life but, more importantly, through it, I hope to be able to give back. Technology today has endless opportunities, it has become a necessity in all fields. Israel has been leading in the field of technology, and that has to be kept up for the continued success of the Israeli economy, its health and security, and I hope to be a part of that dream.
JI: What are your aspirations at present and for the future? Do you have goals such as to work with Nefesh b’Nefesh or at the Knesset? How do you plan on giving back?
CO: My short-term goal is to first immerse myself in my studies, as this will enable me to give back and strengthen Israel, which is my future goal. I see myself in the future as possibly helping Nefesh b’Nefesh by being [a kind of] representative and raising awareness about our holy land through technology. I don’t know about the Knesset.… but, in my own way, I think our goals of helping Israel be the best place it can be are the same.
JI: What’s your opinion of the pressures that the world is placing on Israel? What’s your political stance and what do you think of Bibi? Of Stephen Harper and his stance on Israel?
CO: I think the pressures the world is placing on Israel are completely irrational. Whenever I take a look at the decisions of the UN, and even just the nations that make up the United Nations Human Rights Council, some of the nations themselves violate the very principles they supposedly uphold. This irony testifies to the unequal judgment of Israel in relation to other nations. Israel is the most democratic country in the Middle East, Israel protects human rights, and yet we receive the most criticism. This twisted view of Israel, which they wholeheartedly believe in, helps me understand how tragedies like the Holocaust could occur. This strengthens my resolve to live and strengthen Israel, so that we won’t need to count on other nations in time of need.
My political stance in terms of the peace process [is that] history has proven that the more land we gave, the more terror and death we got in return. They never kept their side of the deal, and when I see what is happening in Russia and [with] ISIS, I understand that certain regions speak a different language. While Israel wants peace, until the Arabs stop inciting hatred and brainwashing their children, and will recognize Israel’s right to exist, there will not be peace. Our security is more important than false promises, and the land of Israel is rightfully ours to keep.
In terms of Bibi, while I do not support all his decisions and stances, I think that, out of all the candidates, he is best for Israel.
Stephen Harper is a faithful ally of Israel, who doesn’t allow international pressures to influence his rightful stance on Israel, and I hope he will be reelected and will continue to be our true ally in a hostile world.
JI: Can you share a special moment you have had so far?
CO: Firstly, the flight, it was one of the most incredible experiences. It was so empowering to see the amount of people, the different backgrounds, the different age groups, but with a common goal that united us all. On the plane, people related the kind of jobs they are hoping to find, what they want to learn, etc., and others brought up ideas, gave them [the phone] numbers of people they know in Israel who will be able to help. The unity and the amount of goodwill, everyone just wanted to help, it was incredible!
The most special moment in Israel was the Kotel. Again, it was the unity, the people from all walks of life, in all different ages that came to the same place our ancestors had been, to pray. There was a feeling of kinship, of belonging, of being a part of something much greater. At one point, a woman asked others to join her in a special prayer for a close friend that needed urgent prayers, and everyone around joined and we said the prayer out loud together. It was so moving!
This whole experience really helped me understand the meaning of “Am Yisrael chai.”
Ava Dashevsky earned her BA from York University, an English teacher’s certificate from David Yellin College in Jerusalem and is a certified basketball instructor from Wingate Sports Institute in Netanya, Israel. She practises Capoeira, a Brazillian martial art, and has a passion for Israel.