A Difficult Beginning in Israel

Miri Picado-Aharoni and her family immigrated to Israel from the Tigray region of Ethiopia in 1980, miri-aharoni2well before the Operation Moses rescue mission that airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to a new home in Israel.

She recalls an extremely difficult start as an immigrant child feeling isolated, victimized and ridiculed by classmates because of her skin color and cultural differences.

“I was the only girl with chocolate brown skin color, no Hebrew language and foreign to the kindergarten children and the teachers. The children were cruel and threw things at me, including a metal shovel,” Miri said. “But I was highly motivated to prove that I’m not ‘worthless’ and so nothing stopped me from becoming a leader.”

Miri’s physical scars from her traumatic childhood remain visible on her forehead but, she said, the emotional stress has faded slowly over time.

An Outstanding Leader

Today, Miri is an outstanding leader in so many ways. She oversees a family assistance center in the southern Israeli town of Rahat, which provides help to at-risk children and women who are part of the region’s Bedouin population. She is dedicated to transforming the lives of underserved families and provides them with the tools to lead a better life.

Miri graduated Yemin Orde High School in 1994 following the footsteps of her older brother and many cousins.

“I already knew from my relatives’ stories that Yemin Orde was magical,” said Miri. “I was privileged to receive an education based on the value of loving one another, regardless of origin or religion, as well as a love of the land and life.”

After serving in the military, Miri completed undergraduate and graduate degrees at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She studied social work in order to ‘pay it forward’ and help immigrants acculturate into Israeli society. She is still in touch with staff at Yemin Orde 20 years following her graduation.

Miri enjoys baking breads and cookies, which are sweet reminders of family and tradition.

Read more about Yemin Orde’s graduates and their achievements.