By: Marcela Homsany
Laying on her bed in a shoebox dorm room that looks out to someone else’s apartment, Eliane Moradi (SCW ‘25), an upper freshman in Stern College for Women, looks ahead at the decorations that scatter across the opposite walls of her single bedroom– a giant Italian flag and a variety of boarding tickets from her flights to and from Milan.
Eliane Moradi was born a triplet on February 25, 2002 in the Clinica Mangiagalli Fondazione in Milan, Italy. Her childhood was filled with visits to Great Neck to see her grandmother, activities in the local Jewish community, and lots of gelato. Going to a Jewish day school her entire life, Eliane expresses that despite her love for Italy, living there as a Jew specifically, was not without its difficulties. She notes, “Italy is not a country like Israel or the USA where the Jewish population is very normalized. Our school in Milan is not very big as we’re just a few people. We’re a small community. We have just a few Jewish friends, and we are used to living in a small community. Because of that, being in the United States, at the beginning was very overwhelming. Here there’s a huge community and a very wide range of Kosher products while in Milan, there is not.”
Regardless of their size, the Jews in Milan are a target for attacks. Eliane recalls an attack that happened to a young boy returning home from his Bar Mitzvah classes. “When I was in high school, my friend’s brother was having his Bar Mitzvah at the time. He was walking with his bike, and a small, ganti-semitic gang stopped him. He was wearing a Kippah, so they asked him, “Are you Jewish?” and he said “Yes.” They then pulled his backpack and kicked him all at once. Fortunately, he was on his bike so he was able to escape.” The anti-semetic attacks in Italy have increased so much that Eliane no longer finds it safe to live there anymore. “I would never go back as much as I love Italy. I will never go back because being a Jew there is not easy. Being a Jew in Israel or in the United States is way easier than being a Jew in Italy. Also, there is a lot of anti-semitism, so I would feel more safe in Israel or in the United States.”
Yeshiva University has maintained itself as a safe haven for many international students like Eliane and has helped her adjust to life in America. She recalls: “At first, it was all very overwhelming. I would always come to New York for vacation, but it was never a place that I thought I could live in. Thank God, my sister was with me, so I wasn’t alone, and I’m very lucky that from the first day I met my friends I was very welcomed by everyone.” With initiatives like the Mechina Pathways Program, Eliane was able to meet people from all over the world who share her experiences with anti-semetism, moving to America, and growing religiously. “The most important thing for me that I think made me feel very comfortable from the beginning, is that I met international friends that have gone through this process, so we understand each other,” says Eliane Moradi (SCW ‘25).
While at YU, Eliane has slowly cultivated her Judaism, making positive changes to her otherwise traditional background. “Since I moved to YU I feel like I’m more attached to my religion. When I came here, I wasn’t sure about it, and I’m still not really sure but I’m working on it. I didn’t eat strict Kosher, I just ate Kosher meat but not Kosher dairy. I’m now starting to also eat Kosher dairy. YU is helping me know/understand that I want to become Shomer Shabbat and in general, live a more religious lifestyle.”
With three more years to go, Eliane Moradi is excited to see what YU has in store for her, as she continues to adapt, grow, and improve her new life in America.