Miriam Areta, who is spending her fellowship year working at Itach–Ma’achi: Women Lawyers for Social Change, is the Jay E. Orlin Fellow. Miriam was born and raised in Bat Yam, Israel to Ethiopian parents until immigrating to the United States at the age of 9 where she was raised across the metropolitan area of Atlanta, GA. She attended The Weber School, a college preparatory Jewish day school, where her love for community service, activism, and Jewish pluralism began through the plethora of leadership positions she took upon herself there. She recently graduated from Spelman College with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Mathematics on the pre-law track. While at Spelman, she was thrilled to learn about the concept of intersectionality and gain the vocabulary to truly express the complexity of her identity that she has felt for so long. She worked very hard to bring in the Israeli narrative to Spelman and often represented Jewish culture across campus events of all size, ensuring to exemplify the diversity of Judaism in some manner. She also spent much time studying and performing research on Jews of colors, Israel, and its minority communities. She was selected to be a part of delegation to gain a deeper understanding of incarceration, detention, and political prisoners within the Israel/Palestine conflict. She spent her recent summer volunteering with the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) and Eritrean Women’s Center to assist them with a program teaching Eritrean female refugees life sustaining skills. When not working on her activism or academic passions, Miriam likes to spend quality time with her family and friends, watch movies (her favorite movie is Interstellar), and try new things. Although she has spent the past 11 years building her community in Atlanta and is very sad to leave her loved ones, returning to Israel with social justice in mind has always been her plan.
Lital Firestone, who is spending their fellowship year working at Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, grew up in Har Halutz, Israel as a child and moved to the D.C. suburbs with their family. They spent four years at the University of Virginia completing both their BA in Foreign Affairs and their Masters of Public Policy. They spent the last year living in Tel Aviv on the Dorot Fellowship, where they engaged in seminars on the difficult political and social issues surrounding Israel/Palestine. They also used this time to create a collection of poetry and collage about their experience as a genderqueer person gaining a deeper understanding of the Occupied Territories.
In college, Lital served as the class president, acted in Shakespeare on the Lawn plays, and was a teacher’s assistant for a leadership class and a humanitarian aid class. They spent the majority of their time co-founding and leading a dialogue retreat called PULSE where students are facilitated in identity questions surrounding race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and cycles of oppression. In the summer of 2016, Lital interned with a non-profit in Lima, Peru to empower women and children through education and alternative incomes. In their graduate thesis they developed a policy proposal for young LGBTQ adults in Latin America to receive effective online mental health resources.
Maya Fried, who is spending her fellowship year working at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), is the Rabbi Richard J. Israel Fellow. Maya was born just outside of Los Angeles to Israeli parents, but didn’t make it to Israel for the first time until her gap year after high school. During that year she volunteered teaching English in a Jerusalem high school and a trade school for at-risk youth in Tel Aviv via the Aardvark Israel Immersion Program.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, Maya attended the University of Southern California, where she served as president of the campus Israel club and participated in the Israeli American Council’s student program, “Mishelanu,” which she later went on to work for upon her graduation. She double-majored in Philosophy, Politics & Law and Creative Writing, mostly so it sounds like she got 4 degrees (but it’s just the two!). For the past year and a half she has been working for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Middle East-focused think tank, on the West Coast. It’s the best gig she’s had yet and she’s sorry to leave it, but Israel is calling her home and she’s thrilled to take part in this fellowship.
Betty Soibel, who is spending her fellowship year working at Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights in Jerusalem, is the Nomi Fein and Leibel Fein Social Justice Fellow. Betty was born in Rehovot, Israel to a family of Russian olim and grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she was active in Jewish community work and environmental activism. She recently graduated from the Joint Program between the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, where she studied Jewish History and Urban Studies. During her summers, she worked as a Tribeleader at Eden Village Camp, a pluralistic Jewish summer camp focused on farm-to-table living and social action. Throughout college, she was active in Hillel, the Bayit (Columbia’s Jewish food Co-Op), and Greening work at JTS and interned for PresenTense, Hazon, and Food & Water Watch. Before Shatil, she was a Fellow on the Yahel Social Change program, where she lived and volunteered teaching English and community organizing with the Jewish and Arab community in Lod.
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Read the bios from other cohorts of the NIF / SHATIL Social Justice Fellows: 2022-2023 cohort
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