Originally from Australia, Yacov made Aliyah with his family as a 9th grader, not really knowing what to expect.
“The first year was hard,” Yacov says. “I was in an Israeli school where I wasn’t learning much and had difficulty connecting to Israeli friends since we came from very different backgrounds.” In 10th grade, Yacov switched to YTA, a high school specifically for olim. His YTA classmates introduced him to NCSY Israel. Yacov joined, first as a way to make friends, and then as a place to utilize his natural leadership abilities.
“I grew up in a religious, Zionist home, and being in NCSY reinforced my upbringing, and strengthened my love of Israel. A lot of teenagers can go their own way, but NCSY kept me grounded and on the path of the values I grew up with.”
In NCSY, Yacov joined his chapter and regional board, where he was involved in planning events and offering feedback. When Yacov began thinking about his plans post high school, he had his advisors for guidance and help. “NCSY as an organization has the best madrichim who can give you advice on anything you need and help you do the research to figure out what is best for you. Asher Manning (Yacov’s Chapter Director) has been amazing and has really helped me figure out which yeshiva to go to. The madrichim give strong moral support and great advice. You can trust them, because they have been there. They have the same backstory as we do.”
Yacov’s middle name is Amichai which means ‘my people live on.’ He was given this name because he was born during the height of the second intifada, and to honor his grandmother’s cousin, Amichai Honig, an Australian who volunteered for the Royal Air Force to fight the Nazis. A highly decorated fighter pilot, known for his bravery and skill, Amichai was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery near the coast of Greece. Although Amichai was not part of the IDF, he died for the defense of the Jewish people, and is recognized for his valor both by Australia, and the State of Israel.
“I shared Amichai’s story on Yom Hazikaron,” says Yacov. “I’m very proud to carry his name and hope to defend Israel, just like Amichai.” After he completes his army service with Yeshivat Hesder Ma’a lot, Yacov plans to pursue a career in diplomacy and foreign affairs, following his passion to defend Israel and Jewish people.
By Pnina Baim