Originally published in JNS.org
About three years ago, Tirael Cohen posted a flimsy, 8-by-10 inch flyer in the Ariel University halls seeking students to create a student village in Samaria. Within a few days, more than 150 students called expressing interest—and it was all she and her friends needed to get started.
Today, Cohen is the director of Kedma, a growing organization that runs student villages in Judea and Samaria. On May 19 in Jerusalem, she will accept the “Spirit of Zion” Moskowitz Prize for making her Zionist idea a reality.
At the tender age of 22, Cohen, a journalism student at Tel Aviv University, has developed a new model for Jewish settlement, although she doesn’t see her organization as a “settlement movement,” which has the reputation of being led by religious Zionist families. Cohen shuns labels. Wearing jeans and boots, she does not appear visibly Orthodox, although she observes Shabbat and kosher dietary laws. She grew up in the community of Nof Ayalon near Modi’in, beyond the Green Line (1949 armistice line), to a family of French immigrants—although her long, curly dark hair gives her the sabra touch.