Third Annual Degel Menashe Scholarship Award Ceremony Held in Ramla
(December 9) Degel Menashe’s 2021-22 academic scholarships were awarded this week to 18 recipients, four more than the previous year. The award ceremony was held in the city of Ramla, near Tel Aviv, and presided over by the city’s mayor Michael Vidal.
The award winners, all young members of Israel’s B’nei Menashe community, will be studying for degrees or professional certificates in a wide range of subjects, including nursing, engineering, education, psychology, fine arts, social work, interior design, medical instrumentation, and business administration. The institutions to be attended by them include Ben-Gurion University, Ariel University, The Holon Institute of Technology, The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, The Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, Tel-Hai Academic College, Hadassah Academic College, and other places. The average scholarship will cover approximately 40 percent of tuition costs.
The ceremony was hosted by Ramla’s municipality, which volunteered to sponsor the event as part of its effort to attract future B’nei Menashe immigrants. “You have a wonderful community, while we’re one of the most diverse cities in Israel,” Mayor Vidal told the award winners, to each of whom he handed a grant money check. “Besides native-born Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, we have immigrants from Ethiopia, Bukhara, Georgia, India, South America, and the Bene Israel community of India, to name a few places. We’ll welcome you with open arms if you come.”
A B’nei Menashe presence in Ramla would be a positive development, our Newsletter was told by Degel Menashe’s executive director Yitzhak Thangjom, a Ramla resident himself. “Until now,” said Thangjom, “B’nei Menashe have all been sent, without consulting them or taking their needs or desires into account, to small towns in Israel’s north, where educational and employment opportunities are fewer than in a centrally located place like Ramla. Many B’nei Menashe, particularly the more talented and ambitious, could benefit from being in the Tel Aviv area.”
The 18 scholarship recipients were also addressed by deputy mayor Avraham Dozrayev and municipal councilor Ronen Rothstein, as well as by Ministry of Immigration and Absorption representative Meir Yechieli, who gave them a detailed explanation of their rights as children of immigrant families and of the ways in which the ministry can assist young students like them.
Remarks were also made by Avner Isaac, chairman of Israel’s Indian Jewish Heritage Center. Isaac stressed the need for B’nei Menashe youngsters to strengthen their community by engaging the government and its offices and taking a pro-active stand on issues affecting them.
The award winners listened attentively. “I learned a lot from the discussion of our rights,” said Yitzhak Lungdhim, who is studying social work at Hadassah College in Jerusalem. Ziva Gin, a B.A.. student at Tel Hai College in the Upper Galilee, added: “It gave me a good feeling to know that there are people who are concerned for our community and want to see it advance and flourish,” And Ronia Lunkhel, who is enrolled in a program for traditional Chinese medicine at Reidman College in Tel Aviv, spoke for everyone in thanking Degel Menashe for “opening up educational opportunities for all of us.”
Lunkhel also served as master of ceremonies as a last-minute replacement for Degel Menashe board member and scholarship program director Bat-El Rently, who broke her glasses shortly before the proceedings began. This was one of several hitches that occurred at the event, which saw the mayor and his entourage arriving, not late as politicians usually do, but half-an-hour early, taking the organizers by surprise. Yet the difficulties were all overcome in good spirits and the evening ended with a chance to socialize over a buffet Indian dinner.
The 18 scholarship winners are:
Top row, from left to right: Dina Kipgen Rachmim (M.A. English), Yael Lunkhel (BSc, Industrial Design), Yiftach Gangte (Engineering), Edna Gin (BFA).
Second row, from left to right: Osnath Lotjem (Medical Instrumentation), Bracha Haokip (Interior Design and Planning), Yossi Kipgen (B.A. Lab Technician), Tehilla Sharon ( B.A. Psychology).
Third row, from left to right: Nitzana Lhungdim (B Ed), Betzalel Gin (Engineering), Yitzhak Lhungdim (B.A. Social Works), Emuna Boitlung (Nursing).
Fourth row, from left to right: Atara Menashe (B Tech), Akiva Lhungdim (MBA), Ronia Lunkhel (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Ziva Gin (B.A, Multidisciplinary).
Scholarship winners whose photographs do not appear are: Rivka Gangte (Nursing) and David Lotjem (Business Administration).