Bar-Ilan University offers students various ways of contributing to its student community. Shev Shatzman, 24, a soon to be graduate in the International Program's BA track in Social Sciences, looks back at her time at BIU fondly because of the opportunities offered to her on and off campus.
Shev, who came from a Zionistic background, made Aliyah alone from Detroit, Michigan in 2009. She spent a year doing National Service in Yavneh Olami, after which she decided to pursue an academic degree. She chose Bar-Ilan because of the growing Olim community, something she wanted to be a part of. It was here that she began to shine through as a community leader for the new Olim.
In 2011, Shev became a part of the BIU Student Union as the English speaking representative of the Anglo community. For Shev, it was the perfect opportunity to help create an active, tight knit community for other Olim, especially those who, much like herself, had no immediate family in Israel.
"I felt like I was giving back to a community that was really there for me," Shev explains. "After making Aliyah on my own, it became my home away from home. The friends I made here became my family, and I wanted to help create that familial closeness for other Olim as well. Being the English speaking representative at the Student Union, I had the chance to do just that."
A year later, Shev grabbed another opportunity to help nurture the love of Israel and Bar-Ilan. She became a counselor at the Israel Experience program at Bar-Ilan University, a gap year program for American high school graduates.
"It was really cool to show them around campus and get them involved with the community I helped build. I loved taking them to Torah classes and community events. I wanted to help them recognize their own leadership qualities. Bar-Ilan is a very open environment, and a perfect place to nurture a love of Israel and young leadership."
Aside from gaining valuable working experience on Israel Experience, like many other BIU’ers, Shev also met her Bashert at BIU. Her now husband, Haysha Shatzman, is about to graduate from BIU with a degree in Psychology and Jewish History. They got married in the summer of 2014 in Israel, surrounded by the students they had mentored together.
Shev continues to pay it forward by working with the Givat Shmuel Community (GSC), a nonprofit organization comprised mostly of Anglo BIU students and dedicated to fostering outreach initiatives and strengthening the English speaking Olim community in the city.