The Shinshinim program offered through the Jewish Agency recruits and trains Israeli high school graduates to spend a year in the Diaspora during a gap year before their military service. The word shinshin comes from the Hebrew phrase shnat sherut – a year of volunteering. During their year here, the visiting teens volunteer as emissaries, educating local students at day schools, Hebrew schools, public schools and community centres about Israel and Israeli culture.
Now in its third year, the Shinshinim program introduces Israeli culture and traditions to children and youth around the Lower Mainland and, in particular, in emerging Jewish communities. Our two young Israeli emissaries have been connecting with children about holidays, Shabbat, and Jewish life from an Israeli perspective, and also gaining a perspective on the diversity of life in the diaspora.
Let’s meet our teen emissaries:
Diana is from a small city in the Lower Galilee, where she enjoys drawing, baking and reading. She is a madricha (youth counselor) in the Madatzim Karmiel youth movement, through which she has had the opportunity to work with kids of all ages.
Maya is from a small Kibbutz in the Upper Galilee, and loves exploring other areas in Israel. She’s been a dancer since she was six years old, is a horse riding instructor, and her dream is to become a doctor.
Both Diana and Maya are accomplished young leaders. Before being selected to participate in the extremely competitive Shinshinim program, each spent time volunteering in a North American city and participated in leadership training programs and tikkun olam (repairing the world) efforts. They’ve shown great interest and skill in building relationships and understanding within our diverse worldwide Jewish community.
In their own words, while here in Vancouver the teens “wish to do what sometimes appears impossible – connect. Drawing those invisible lines between the hearts of people and communities who live 10,726 kilometres apart.”