My MMY~Where Are They Now?


Sivan (Shachnovitz) Felder- MMY 5769
(Alon Shvut; Student, Video Editor and Videographer)

It’s hard to know where to begin exactly—where does anyone’s story actually “start”? So much has happened since my year spent at MMY that I occasionally look back and think, “How could it have only been five years ago?” And yet, here I am today—married and in Israel, expecting my first child (be’ezrat Hashem) and the owner of my own small production company, Felder Films. All of these developments in my life make me realize how much can happen in such a short time…who knows what the next five years will bring?

Originally I intended on making aliyah right after my year at MMY in 2009; but Hashem had other plans. I returned to America and worked while studying in Stern College for two years. Even though I was living in America, my mind was always focused on moving to Israel—my life in America was temporary. Aliyah was not considered a “plan;” but a reality. As soon as I could, I would be returning home.  

My parents, who both had lived in Israel before making ירידה, always spoke about Israel being our real home; so much so that my father even spoke Hebrew to me when I was younger, so that when we “returned home” I would speak the language. And even though my siblings and I were all raised in America, we definitely never saw ourselves as “American.” My father, who spoke with a heavy Lithuanian-Israeli accent, made sure that we knew where we truly belonged.

After a year in Stern, I decided that the time had come to return home to Israel. I prepared to make aliyah by myself, soon to be pleasantly surprised that my mother concurrently realized that it was the right time for the entire family to move as well. (I’d like to take credit for this, but to be fair, it required an insurmountable amount of strength on her part). And so, we packed up our house in Fair Lawn and got on the next Nefesh B’Nefesh flight—together, as a family.

I’d like to say that the transition was smooth; after all, I had been waiting my entire life for this moment. But saying that would not be being totally honest – the entire process of klita was hard. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to be here and never looked back, but it took me a while before I felt…“at home.”

I started studying social work school at Bar Ilan and was able to understand most of my classes (although Google translate remained open on my computer for most lectures, and sometimes a whole class would go by before I figured out what exactly the topic had been). Over the next few months I frequented an absurd amount of government offices, learned how to find the cheapest vegetables in the shuk, met my husband, got married (well he wasn’t my husband when I met him, so I still had to go through the whole dating process), and moved to Nof Ayalon (where my husband finished Hesder Yeshiva in Shaalvim).

After a year and a half of social work school, I realized that it just wasn’t for me and I decided to try working in a field about which I felt more passionate. I have always loved making movies, and with some serious hashgacha pratit, I met a man with his own production company who was willing to train me and let me work for him. I loved the freedom of not having to sit in an office all day, essentially being my own boss for most things, and so far I have really enjoyed learning more about videography and video editing. I recently opened up my own production company, Felder Films, and have even shot a few weddings and bar mitzvahs. My dream is to inspire people through my films, and though I don’t plan on staying in event videography forever, for now it seems like a good place to start. 

Since coming to Israel, I have realized that there are so many options of things I can ‘be’ or I can ‘do.’ While in America I felt that it was too hard for me to narrow down my interests enough to fit in to one profession. I didn’t have an interest in being a doctor or a lawyer or a nurse. Here, in Israel, I have found that people have jobs in many different fields and are involved in several things at once. This works well for me—being here in an environment in which I can aspire to be a personal trainer, a dance instructor, a videographer and a mother. I can’t imagine just doing one thing!

As for my roots, I haven’t forgotten about MMY. Many of the rabbis from MMY attended my wedding, and I still speak to many of them through e-mail or when I see them in Alon Shvut (where I now live). When things got rough in my personal life a few years back, the support I received from my teachers blew me away. I know that they say that once you’re part of the “MMY family” you forever are, but I didn’t realize the extent to which they actually meant it. I’m proud to be where I am, and I am so thankful to MMY for helping me discover my strengths, develop my passions, and truly understand that I really can do anything.

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