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Anjelika, age 25

Yozim Leshinuy

Life is one big experience, so I recommend going and experimenting.

My name is Anjelika, and I would love to share my story with you. I was educated in an ultra-orthodox setting for several years, like everyone else. But my background is slightly different from what you might expect because I joined the ultra-orthodox society. The ultra-orthodox scene I had entered wanted to marry me off at 17-18. Fortunately for me, I did not get married because I decided it would be preferable to, at least, obtain a higher education first.

What does a girl of 17-18 years know about what she wants to do in her life? I, for example, did not know too much. I only knew that I believed in the duration of religious life and wanted to remain inside the frame. The truth is, I had nowhere to go, so I immigrated to Israel by myself. I chose to pursue studies, but secular institutions were out of the question in the frame I was in. At the same time, religious institutions offered not too many professional options. I knew that I had always had a mind for studies, so I decided on managerial accounting at the Tal Institute.

In my second year of studies, I made several encounters that undermined my faith in religion, mostly people from the ultra-orthodox sectors who pushed me out of that place. Such as the rabbi from my frame who told me that my prayers would not reach G-d because my skirts were not long enough. Or another rabbi who threw a friend and me out of his college class after we had complained about the negative tone towards Russians. Coming from there myself, the tone used had been unpleasant to me.

I returned to questioning, and not just because of people like those. Eventually, I somehow went all the way from someone who had joined to someone who detached to an extent where I do not identify as religious anymore. Today, also most of my friends count themselves as formerly religious. This is how I got to know Out for Change.

After I had finished my degree, I tried to understand what I truly wanted to do in life, started to think deeper, and realized that design and art had always been with me and interested me to learn and involve myself with. But I had never imagined that it was something that I could bring into my everyday life. Then it dawned on me that I simply needed to try because if I am drawn towards it, then there is no reason not to try. And who knows, in the best case, I would succeed!

Two years after my first degree, I started to close in on myself step by step. I hesitated, but the date of the entrance exam approached fast. I knew that I needed help from someone who studied in the field and could help me build confidence and understand if these studies were the right choice for me even before they started. (As I said, I had done a full degree before without noticing that it was not for me.)

So I approached Out for Change. At the start, Efrat, the program coordinator of Out to Learn, was very surprised by my request for help with design and painting. But she took me seriously and came back to me with a volunteer tutor. Shortly after, we met on Zoom for the first time.

After that, I met with my tutor for one hour every week and progressed well from lesson to lesson. I will be honest, going back to studying was difficult because I had simply forgotten how to learn and maintain a good routine. But eventually, after a period of investing in my education again, things started to flow and work out. I had to build a portfolio for the application, and the classes and my tutor’s constructive feedback helped a lot in that process.

Today, I combine work in the mornings with media design studies in the evenings. I am very glad that I went in this direction. The preparatory studies with Out for Change allowed me to experiment, develop myself further, and, thus, be more confident in my choice. Life is one big experience, so I recommend going and experimenting.

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