Aug 26

“Soul Train” brings two Israeli students to Helena’s Residential Campus

Earlier this month, the students in our Residential program in Helena benefitted from the opportunity to meet two wonderful young women from Israel who came to Montana as part of the “Soul Train” program, which is supported by Bnei Akiva. Bnei Akiva is a youth movement, which inspires and empowers young Jews all over the world with a sense of commitment to the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and the Torah. A piece of their work, then, was to focus on connecting with the Jewish children on campus and in Helena, but they were also gracious enough to teach some cultural studies and share with all the children some dance, games, and pictures from Israel. All of this was made possible by the hard work in coordinating the activities and transportation by Intermountain’s Jewish Mentor, Jim Nallick.

Sarah Zalta and Ayala Kowalsky are both from Efrat, Israel, and are stayed in Montana for two weeks–one week in Helena and one in Bozeman. Sarah is a 3rd year student at a school for the arts, and Ayala is a make-up artist and dances in a dance company. Their artistry were on display in their work with the children, as they did some fantastic face painting (among other fun activities)!


Ayala (left) and Sarah (right) sharing with the children during a “get to know you” game that involved Mike-and-Ike candies!

I asked Sarah and Ayala to share a little bit about themselves and their experience in Montana and with Intermountain. Here is what they had to say:

Chris: Sarah and Ayala, we are grateful for the Soul train program making it possible for you to come and visit us and share your talents and love for Israel. What do you see as your purpose here and what do you hope to achieve in interacting with our children?

Sarah: I hope to make positive connections between Israelis and the kids from Montana and Intermountain. Also, I want to give the Jewish kids an opportunity to learn about their own identity, to connect with their Jewish roots and learn about their history.

Ayala: I see an importance of exposing the Israeli and Jewish culture around the world, especially when the media shows so many things that aren’t true!

Chris: What have been your impressions of Montana so far?

Ayala: Lots of open space, I love it! Kind of a relaxed vibe, nothing seems too rushed or stressful. Beautiful hills and views.

Sarah: I loved being in Montana, the people are very welcoming and positive. There is a very relaxed and peaceful atmosphere and it was very enjoyable (incredible view!).

Chris: What have been your impressions of Intermountain? What have you enjoyed about your interactions with our students and staff?

Jewish Mentor, Jim Nallick, and guests from Israel, Sarah and Ayala

Jewish Mentor, Jim Nallick, and guests from Israel, Sarah and Ayala

Sarah: I got a great impression of Intermountain! During my studies last year, I volunteered in a program called “Ahuzat Sarah,” which is very similar to Intermountain… just an Israeli version. The children [at Intermountain] are given the opportunity to learn and to develop themselves in the best way possible. Especially the detailed follow up on every child is so important and is really happening here. The staff pays their full attention to the children and truly cares about them. Also, the respect given to different cultures is fantastic.

Ayala: I really like that the classes aren’t too big, and it seems like each student gets a lot of attention. The teachers and supervisors have been amazing and it’s beautiful to see their connections with the students.

Chris: Anything else jump out to you about your time here at Intermountain?

Sarah: I was really amazed by the respect that is given to the Jewish kids even though there are only very few of them–and the understanding that each child is a whole world and deserves the greatest opportunities.

Ayala: I loved meeting and letting to know the students. It was exciting to hear from both staff and students that they learned new things about Israel!

Chris: Well, we are so appreciative of the passion, skill, and energy you have shard with our students and staff. Thank you so much for coming to bless our children!

Ayala: Thanks for letting us share this experience!

Sarah: Thank you for the warm hospitality in this great place and for the collaboration! Hope you guys will come visit! All the best… blessings!

a thank you note from one of our children to Sarah and Ayala

a thank you note from one of our children to Sarah and Ayala