It began like any other visit. The couple from Texas, Nissim and Rebecca Elbaz, walked around mingling quietly with the Afikim students. But it ended like no other visit.
Nissim Elbaz asked if he might speak with the youth as a group. Eager to hear what he had to say, the students and staff gathered together and were fascinated by the story that unraveled. Nissim Elbaz grew up just blocks away from the Center, one of 12 children in a one room basement. He told heartbreaking stories of hunger and poverty and of flunking out of school in the eighth grade. Nissim, however, dreamed of something greater and upon completing his army service he boarded a plane to the States determined to make something of himself – to defy all the predictions of failure imposed on him by his parents and teachers. Against all odds, he was accepted to university and with incredibly hard work and determination he eventually completed not only his BA but also a Doctorate in Education.
Nissim learned the hard way about the importance of a good education and how its not money that makes the world go around but diligence and determination and some chutzpah thrown in.
According to Nissim the success he is most proud of is his sons’ successes. His three sons all studied in the prestigious Caltech University and have become leaders in the world of high tech. His eldest, Gilad, is an American entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist best known for co-founding, Applied Semantics eventually sold to Google for millions.
Nissim, and his wife Rebecca, also an educator, made it clear that education was the key to a successful future and the Afikim children were amongst the lucky ones. Nissim asked each youth to dream an impossible dream and work to achieve it. After all, “if you will it anything is possible”.