April 22, 2007 / 4 Iyar 5767
“When I went to get my Israeli identity card, I was told that I wasn’t Jewish. What a shock. I grew up Jewish and led a Jewish lifestyle. Through the Nativ program, I spent seven weeks immersed in Jewish study. I learned so much about myself, my Jewish identity and my connection to Israel and the Jewish people. I don’t know what I would have done without this course.”
Growing up in Madrid, Spain, Maya Nahor, 21, celebrated Jewish holidays with her family, went to synagogue on the Sabbath and attended a Jewish day school. Her Israeli-born father was the target of a virulent anti-Semitic attack in which he was stabbed.
Despite the fact that Maya grew up secure in the knowledge that she was Jewish, she attended a public school from the age of 10 because her parents could no longer afford Jewish education for her and her two younger sisters. In school, many of her non-Jewish classmates did not accept her. At the age of 15, she went to a boarding school where she no longer openly admitted she was Jewish. “However, I felt empty without religion,” says Maya.
At the age of 18, Maya had a dream that led her to Israel. Her father encouraged her to make aliyah to find out about her Jewish identity. However, when she went to get her identity card as a new citizen she was told that she wasn’t Jewish, since her mother wasn’t Jewish. “I was enraged and angry with my parents,” says Maya. “I always thought my mother was Jewish.”
While serving in the army, where she was a truck driver, Maya joined the Jewish Agency’s Nativ Jewish Zionist Identity Program for Immigrant Soldiers. Here she learned about history, Zionism, bible, Jewish philosophy and practice. Following the program, Maya took two additional seminars to complete the process of preparing for conversion. Her conversion was officially recognized in August of 2006, according to Jewish law.
Maya was recently released from the army. She plans to work and then go on to college to study international relations. Through the Jewish Agency Fund for Lone Immigrant Soldiers and the Student Authority Scholarships they support, Maya receives rent subsidy and is eligible for a full tuition scholarship for her undergraduate studies. “I want to do something that will help people understand what a great place Israel is. I want others to find their personal path to freedom.”