The Haas/Koshland Memorial Award Makes My Dream Possible

As a child growing up in America, Israel was forced on me: speaking Hebrew at home, going to Israeli cultural events, afterschool hours spent in a house of Israelis speaking at speeds only Israelis can achieve. I was confused about my identity. I was not in love with Israel, but I dreamed of Israel. It was later when I traveled there that I learned to love it – and found my calling.

It’s 2012. I’m in Silwan (a Palestinian neighborhood), Jerusalem. A man falls to the street convulsing. His body shakes and quivers in violent flashes. But no one looks. No one stops. The cars drive around him, and the people walk around the cars. Everyone is moving and they try to drag me with them. But I stop. I look. I can’t move or talk.

Finally a man looks over at him, notices his body. I call to him in broken Arabic: Where is the hospital? “Hek a dunya,” he says to me. “Hatha mush mushiklatek.” This is the way the world is. It isn’t your problem.

But the man’s body will not be quiet. This is my problem. This is not the way the world is. So I call Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross) for help.

It was following that incident that I took an internship in the emergency room at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, working with Arab and Jewish patients, translating between English, Arabic, and Hebrew, giving EKGs, and providing basic emergency support. I fell in love with helping people face to face, helping them get through the day.

It became my dream to pursue a career in global health.  

The Haas/Koshland Memorial Award has made my dream possible. Thanks to the Award, I will be taking pre-med classes at Bar-Ilan University, volunteering in a clinic for refugees in Tel Aviv, and hopefully getting certification from Magen David Adom. With my undergraduate degree in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies, I plan to work in global health, especially in refugee and post-conflict situations. Thank you, Haas/Koshland families and Memorial Award Committee for helping me on this journey.

The Haas/Koshland Memorial Award provides up to $20,000 to a college student for a year of personal development and study in Israel. Find out more about the award and past recipients.

Categories: Endowment, Awards, Israel


April 17, 2015


Rebecca Leff