Coming home– a multigenerational family odyssey

“I grew up surrounded by Jewish friends and family,” explains Dachevsky.

SHARON HERCMAN DACHEVSKY (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sharon Dachevksy’s maternal grandparents miraculously survived the Holocaust and re- turned to their hometown in Poland after World War II. Her mother and uncle were born in Poland, where antisemitism was still ram- pant. She recalls her mother telling her that her uncle was called a “dirty Jew” in school and the other kids threw rocks at him.
The family had friends in Brazil who told them that life in São Paulo was much better. The family moved and Dachevksy’s grandfather went from finding work as a door-to-door tailor to starting his own clothing factory.
Dachevksy’s father, a plastic surgeon, came from a Zionist home in Argentina and she has a large family there. Her mother flourished in São Paulo’s large Jewish community. She went to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa where she got a BA in architecture before returning to Brazil.
“I grew up surrounded by Jewish friends and family,” explains Dachevsky. “I went to a Jewish school from kindergarten through high school. It wasn’t religious, but we learned about Jewish traditions and history and Zionism.”
Alongside her love of learning, she studied classical ballet for 13 years and was an avid Israeli folk dancer.
She used to dream about being an Israeli soldier.
At the age of 16, she went on a March of the Living trip; first to Poland and then to Israel. “During the two weeks in Israel I fell in love with the country,” she says.
This trip, and the Israeli emissaries (shlihim) who came to her high school and talked about Israel gave Dachevsky the push she needed to take time off and spend six months in the country. She went to a kibbutz ulpan, where she learned Hebrew and met other young people from all over the world. It was here that she decided to make aliyah and serve in the army.
“The economic situation in Brazil, especially after the financial crisis, was not good,” she notes. “This affected my parents, who divorced when I was seven. But both of them knew that there was no future for me in Brazil. My mother wanted me to get my degree and my father told me that the decision to make aliyah would be the best decision I could ever make.”
Dachevsky spent another five months learning Hebrew, with the goal to join the army. “I knew that I would not be a true citizen if I did not do army service like all the Israelis my age,” she says.
She had her heart set on serving in a combat unit.
She trained constantly, but she broke her leg before her interview at the recruitment office. When she was finally able to go for her interview, she was so nervous she made herself sick. The third time she went for the interview was the charm; she got accepted as a naval lookout.
“Although I knew this was a good placement, I was so disappointed,” she says. “But everything worked out for the best. I had an amazing commander who found me a position as a tugboat navigator and I loved this. I learned how to navigate with computers, how to work the communications systems and how to be an excellent sailor. I also received combat status. It was perfect for me.”
After completing her two-year service at the Haifa Port, Dachevsky knew that she wanted to go to college at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, also in Haifa. Although she felt at loose ends after the intensity and camaraderie of her service, she went straight to the Technion’s mechina (pre-academic preparatory program), a mandatory course for new immigrants from certain countries.
“This year was so intense that I didn’t have time to work,” she says. “As a result, I went through most of my savings.”
She was accepted to the Technion, majoring in molecular biochemistry, very interested in medical research and innovation. However, she had no idea how she was going to be able to afford to go to college. Both her mother and father were barely making ends meet in Brazil.
It was Atidim’s Takeoff program for discharged lone soldiers that gave her the support she needed. In addition to tuition, Dachevsky received a laptop computer, gets a monthly living stipend, an academic adviser, tutoring if she needs it, and access to costly high-level Internet courses.
During her freshman year, as part of the Takeoff program, Dachevsky did her volunteer work with the Acharai organization, counseling soldiers from difficult backgrounds. She also tutored a young woman from Austria who was studying at the mechina.
“This was my way of giving back in a small way,” explains Dachevsky. “When I was in the mechina, an Atidim student from Brazil tutored me and now I felt like I was passing it forward.”
Dachevsky worked hard to maintain the minimum 8.5 grade point average needed for the Takeoff program.
In the end it paid off, as she made Dean’s List in her first semester. In addition, she is a member of Technion’s dance troupe.
Going into her sophomore year, Dachevsky is excited about continuing her studies, and still cannot believe how much support she receives from Atidim funders, who do not even know her.
“My mother and father were both right about Israel,” she says. “I would never have had the opportunities there that I have here and I am excited about my future.”
Dachevsky has a boyfriend from Colombia who was also a lone soldier and is now working in a start-up company in Tel Aviv. She misses her immediate and extended family and the lively Brazilian culture, but she does not feel alone in Israel.
“I love this country,” she says with enthusiasm.
“It’s a great place. I feel free and comfortable and very safe here.”