Yakir grew up in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona as the youngest of four children. His father was unable to work because of poor health and his mother works as a school secretary. When he was 18, one of his older brothers was critically injured in a car accident. Suddenly Yakir’s life and that of his parents was focused on the hospital ward where his brother lay in a semi-conscious state.
Sitting in the same hospital ward was Rafi, an older man whose son had been tragically injured in a terror attack on a bus in Haifa. Over several years of hospital visiting, the two families connected and were able to support and comfort each other.
Yakir discovered that Rafi had studied at the Technion and now gave private lessons in Mathematics and Physics. As Yakir was working on retaking his school leaving certificate in Maths, Rafi was happy to help him. Rafi started tutoring Yakir and encouraged him to aim high and apply to the Technion, one of Israel’s leading universities. Shortly before the qualification examinations, Rafi suffered a heart attack in Yakir’s arms and died in hospital a few days later. “Rafi was a genius, a truly good person who loved to help the people around him. He gave private lessons to many people free of charge because he loved to help others and encourage them to study and succeed. He was a wonderful man with a big heart – everyone loved him and I was honoured to know him.”
Yakir was accepted by the Technion for a combined degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. He had worked to save money for the first year of his course, but when the university admissions team heard about his family circumstances, they recommended him for a full Moshal Scholarship.
“It’s a tough combined degree and there are times when I worry that I will not manage to make the grade. Whenever I have these doubts and when I am struggling, I know that I can call on my support team at Moshal. Just talking to them, knowing that they understand how I feel and hearing their words of encouragement, helps me to believe in myself.”
Yakir has gained a great deal from the various Moshal workshops that he has attended, picking up time management tips, communication skills and advice on how to apply for a job at the end of his course. Now, in his final year, the Moshal careers advisor is helping him to identify and apply for suitable jobs.
“With Moshal beside me, I feel that I am better equipped than any of the other students on my course – it’s like having an unfair advantage!”
Not only is Yakir the first member of his family to go to university, but he carries with him the memory of Rafi and his son, who remains in a vegetative state in the hospital, together with Yakir’s brother. However challenging the course, and whenever Yakir feels disheartened, he remembers how fortunate he is, and he tries to make the most of every opportunity.
“Rafi was like a second father to me, and he invested many hours in helping me to succeed. His son was studying at the Technion when his life was destroyed, so I feel that I am fulfilling his dream as well as my own – it’s a huge responsibility.”
“Until now I have been dependent on the support of other people but, as I approach the end of my degree course, I am looking forward to standing on my own two feet. I want to pay back what has been invested in me and embrace every opportunity. My goal is to find a job that will enable me to support my parents and make their lives a little easier after all the heartache that they have suffered. I want to be able to help other people, to dedicate my life and the tremendous opportunities that I have been given to contribute in some way to society.”