-Yuval Shoham-


Name: Betty Tegegn


Age: 19


Year: 1


The facts: Betty was born in Ethiopia and came to Israel at the age of three. She is studying at the Faculty in the academic reserves; after completing her studies, she will serve in the Military Advocate General’s Corps. “I know that when people look at me, they usually assume that my behavior is typical of the entire Ethiopian community. So I try to do everything as well as possible so that I make a good impression,” Betty admits. “When I arrived at the Faculty, it surprised me that I was the only Ethiopian in my year. I was a bit shocked and disappointed, but it also encouraged me to work hard, as if I have to prove everything by myself. I was also the only Ethiopian student in my elementary school and I had first-hand experience with people who were prejudiced even as small children. But it gave me a very firm and strong foundation in life.”



Why law? “One thing that encouraged me to study law was my experience as an Ethiopian Israeli. For example, I remember that on the day of the Ethiopian demonstration in Tel Aviv, I was watching reports on television, because I am a volunteer in the Civil Guard and I’m not allowed to participate in demonstrations. It was driving me crazy not to be there. An Ethiopian guy was speaking and started to list all the difficulties he has faced. I could really relate to what he was saying, and after a while I started crying. I haven’t experienced discrimination personally, but when the struggle started you realize that if you haven’t, then your neighbor or family have experienced inequality. When I was in high school I imagined that the Members of Knesset sit down seriously, work out their opinions, debate, and consult with experts. When I realized how things really work I told myself the law is a great platform for changing things, for righting social wrongs from the root. By the way, I wrote my end-of-year paper on the subject of affirmative action, which I strongly oppose. Instead of dealing with the root of the problem, that just sweeps things under the carpet.” 


A second hearing“Despite her heavy study schedule, Betty manages to find time to volunteer and get involved in a range of activities. “I volunteer in the Breira Center and the local claims court, and I work in the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, which is active in the field of Israeli outreach, human rights, and help for disadvantaged populations. I mainly undertake research for the outreach work – collecting materials, writing, and translating. I’m also active in the university debating club. When it was my turn to speak, I went up to the podium and started shouting at everyone. I serve as the Faculty representative to the general student union, I’m a police volunteer, and I work as an instructor in a school as part of the Social Entrepreneurship project.




Name: Chen Feder


Age: 25


Year: 2


The facts: Chen, who comes from Haifa originally and lives in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem, took part in a student exchange with the University of Toronto in August. He is currently working in the Yossi Havilio law firm, which specializes in public law. “In one of our cases, we are trying to save Nachman Square in Nahalat Shiva from a private developer who is trying to seize control of the area and hold performances there without taking into consideration that harm that will be caused to the neighbors,” Chen explains.




Why law? “I served as an officer in the Artillery Corps during my military service, because I wanted to give as much as I could. I tried to think of a way to do something meaningful after the army, and I realized that the best way was to study law. I think the Faculty gives us lots of tools we can use in the future to help people, and enables us to look at things from a different angle.”


A second hearingChen volunteers in a special project to provide free legal aid for Jerusalem residents. He says that he heard about the project soon after it began. “When I arrived at the Faculty, I heard about the project from someone who had just graduated. At that point the project wasn’t really able to get off the ground. I contacted Attorney Yossi Havilio, who I now work for and who was the project coordinator at the time, and we planned ways to get it moving. Now the project works with three attorneys who come for a few hours once every two weeks to meet residents of Jerusalem and provide them with free legal aid in all fields, except criminal and family law. My job is to receive requests for assistance, refer them to the appropriate attorney, and later contact the residents and make sure that things worked out. For example, I recently had a case of a woman who had been dismissed without receiving compensation. We wrote a letter to the employer and he paid what was due. Some of our cases eventually lead to lawsuits. For example, many residents have complained about a serious shortage of parking places close to the new Arena stadium. We decided to submit a court petition obliging the municipality to allocate additional parking places.





Name: Yael Sheffer


Age: 22


Year: 2


The facts: Yael began to study law at the University of Haifa, but after her first year she transferred to the Hebrew University. “I was in Thailand when I got the results of my psychometric examination and I was a bit disappointed,” she recalls. “I decided to apply for university just to see whether they would accept me. The registration period in Jerusalem had already ended, so I applied to the University of Haifa, where I lived. I really enjoyed my studies there, but I decided to move because I wanted to live away from home for a while, and also because the Faculty in Jerusalem is considered the best in Israel.” Yael is also active in the student wing of Meretz. She expects to work in the public sector in the future, but she also admits that “I’m one of those students who will get to interview week without really knowing what they want to do.”  



Why law? Yael says that she was always attracted to law: “I watched Law & Order from the age of five. Before I began to study law, I saw it as a tool for social and political change, and these are definitely the areas that attracted me to the world of law.” After two years of law studies, Yael now understands that the picture isn’t quite so rosy: “I’ve found out that there are lots of things in law that actually prevent change and perpetuate the status quo. I think that the more significant changes are created outside the field of law.” Yael adds that the legal knowledge she has acquired helps her in her political activities: “Meretz is strongly committed to promoting human rights and democratic principles, and my law studies definitely help me to understand these areas more fully.” 


An additional hearing: “In the 10th grade I participated in the Seeds of Peace program, which is a one-month summer camp in Maine (in the US) attended by Jewish, Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, and American youth. It’s a classic American summer camp – you take part in activities and camp out together. But once a day we all met for one and a half hours of political discussion. We talked about key issues and tried to learn to understand the other side. The camp was a very powerful experience for me and had a strong influence on my political opinions. Most young people are taught to have a very one-sided view, and university is the first time that they encounter alternative political narratives. I was exposed to this at a younger age, partly through the summer camp, and that’s shaped the way I think. Once you see the ‘enemy’ as a human being, rather than an amorphous and abstract character, the way you understand the conflict changes. Of course some of my friends maintained their right-wing views after the program, but I think they also have a better understanding of the other side now.”


Name: Avital Keltz


Age: 18


Year: 2


The facts:Avital was born in Paris, France and came to Israel when she was in the 6th grade. She has lived in Jerusalem with her family since they arrived in Israel. In August she will be taking time out from her studies to join the army, and after two years she will come back and begin her third year. “Actually I didn’t want to move to Israel. I didn’t know anyone here and I don’t have family here. Fortunately I could speak fluent Hebrew because I went to a Jewish school in France, so I settled in relatively quickly.”



Why law? “After I finished high school I couldn’t join the army, because I was still too young, so I went to work for a law firm, because I knew that I wanted to work in that field. Even in France I used to tell everyone that I wanted to be a lawyer and a judge. I always liked debates and discussions, and in particular I liked to win the debate – to be the one who presents the best arguments. I remember that I used to count how many French fries I had got compared to my brothers and how many times each of us had to set the table. I always had a drive for justice.”


An additional hearing: Avital was only 17 when she arrived at the Faculty, but she soon managed to make friends with students who are several years older than her. “It was a bit weird at first. Everyone around me at the Faculty has already been in the army and they talk about it, so in a way it feels as if I’ve already done it too, and I’m going there again.”