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Michael Diamond and ShinShinim Alumni

Michael Diamond and ShinShinim Alumni

Add your voice.

Below is a collection of a few letters sent by concerned members of our congregation, received by our alumni ShinShinim, and responded to by our alumni ShinShinim when possible.

We ask that you continue this campaign and leave your comments below or send via [email protected] your correspondence to be added here.

The care and passion expressed below provides great support and comfort.

Your names are beautiful

Dear Rosy, Dear Hilly, Dear Bar, Dear Tslil, Dear Yaniv, Dear Mor, Dear Maya, Dear Alon, Dear Mai, Dear Or, Dear Gal, Dear Gefen, Dear Maayan, Dear Taly, —

Your names are beautiful.  Dew, Wave, Vine, Wellspring, Myrrh, Oak, Light….

Your very names are the names of the land, and the sea beside the land, and the water-ways beneath the land.  The sacred land of Israel.

We miss you.  We delight in memories of you when you were with us.  Simple memories of laughter and child’s play.  Memories of good humour and good intensions.  Memories of real connection.  Seeing in your faces the faces of Am Echad. Hearing in your voices the humanity and complexity of Israel.

We worry for you.  Are you safe?  Are your loved ones taking shelter?  Are you fearful?  Are you angry?  Are you able to sleep at night?  If we could wrap our arms around you from over the ocean, we would.  We’d hold you in our embrace.  We wouldn’t say:  “Don’t worry.  It’ll be OK.”  But we would hold on tight and say:  “We are here.  With you.  We are with you.”

We actually love you.  Even if we don’t really know who you are becoming since you were with us, we still love you for who you were when we were together.  We love you for giving a year of your precious lives to us.  We love you for sharing yourselves, wholeheartedly, with us and representing the face of Israel to our children.

We are blessed by you.  You are the young faces of leadership and courage, compassion and hope.  All the Jewish eyes of the Diaspora look to you for inspiration.  “Or chadash al Zion ta-ir.”  If ever “a new light will shine on Zion,” it will be because you make it so.  “V’nizkeh chulanu meheira l’oro.”  If ever we are “deserving of its light,” let it be now.  We know that our destiny is wrapped up in yours.  We understand that although we live our lives apart, ultimately ours is one shared story, the story of an eternal people walking through history together.

We are grateful to you.  Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, we are proud of you and we thank you for the good that you are and the good that you do and for the strength that you bring to Israel.

We pray for you.  Even if you don’t pray, we pray for you.  If you choose not to pray, we’ll pray twice.  We pray in melody and in silence.  We pray in Hebrew and in English.  We pray with generosity and compassion.  We will pray relentlessly until peace comes to you, your loved ones, and to all the inhabitants of the land.

Y’varechecha Adodai v’Yishm’recha.  May God watch over and protect you.  May God’s light shine upon you and be gracious with you. May God’s Presence be near to you and grant you peace.”

Shalom al Yisrael.
Rabbi Yael Splansky

kol Yisrael arevim ze laze

Mai Levi

Mai Levi, Cantor Maissner, Or Shalem

Shalom everyone, hope you all are well.

This is Mai, your past Shinshinit from 3 years ago, hope you remember me. I left Toronto two years ago but it feels like it was yesterday. I think about you every day, talk about my amazing year in HBT community and wish I could see you or even just talk to you and be part of the congregation again.

When I came to HBT as a young emissary, I tried to give you the full picture of Israel in my point of view, make sure you love our beautiful country with no conditions, the way I do.

As you know, these days are not so easy for us. Our friends and family members taking part in the operation, fighting, get hurt and unfortunately even die in the battle against Hamas. Soldiers, like me, citizens, people who live next to the Gaza strip, and in this operation- most of the country is under rocket attacks. The IDF does the best that it can to take Hamas apart with the least people who will get hurt, Try not to hurt innocent people… we do the best that we can to bring peace in a peaceful way, but it can never be nice when you are in a war.

It is hard to understand how people can be like that, so cruel. We all are human being, we all want to live in peace, at least most of the people think that way and the strong minority is taking over the people wishes.

I got a group of friend from my base to pray with me almost every night. In the last month my thoughts and my prayers are for peace, for that my dear ones will get back safe from the battle, that our days will be full of joy and our nights will be peaceful and quiet as they should be, that no mother will cry, that no father will need to be worried.

You should know that most of the citizens volunteer, bring food and clothing for soldiers and try to make us happy in every single part of Israel. We feel their support and your support every day. The most amazing thing and the light in this battle is that in such a hard time we can feel and understand how true is the phrase of “kol Yisrael arevim ze laze” “All Jews bear responsibility for one another”. “כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה”

I am proud to be Israeli, proud to be Jewish, proud of our Army and proud of this country. I couldn’t ask for a better place to grow up at or be at right now.  Israel is my country, is your country, it belongs to all of us, to the whole Jewish nation and we should support it. Please join my prayers for peace and may all the soldiers will come back safe from this operation.

If you have any questions. Or if you would like to keep in touch with me (I’ll be more than happy)- this is my contact details:

Love and miss you,
Mai Levi

We continue... to share the truth...

Dear Friends:

We had the opportunity of hosting you when you were in Toronto during your Shana Sherut at Holy Blossom, I’m attaching the family picture for you to recognize us, and Isaac in particular.  The picture is the latest one and it is from Isaac’s confirmation.

It has been a difficult time for Israel, we hear the news, and also see biased information that does not do justice to Israel. But in spite of all, we continue to pray for your wellbeing and continue to stand for truth and to talk to as many people as we can to share the truth we know and for people to understand that Israel is a nation and deserves peace for all its citizens.

With our prayers best regards, and wishes for a peace to come soon.

Alberto Quiroz

Todah Rabah!!! You don’t know how much it helps me. I have been here for two weeks now – on the border. I have been drafted for the reserve forces… I am a combat medic working with a doctor, since Saturday night we treated over 50 injures and 15 bodies, it was so hard you can’t believe it. Thankfully today we were doing nothing! And hopefully we will continue this way! Amen

Thank you again, it means a lot to know the Israel gets an honorable representation!

יניב כהן

We continue to pray for shalom al Yisrael – peace in Israel

In the last few days I have heard from a few of our former Shinshinim – some who have been called to the front and others who are still serving in the army. We have heard from Yaniv and Or, and if you would like to post a comment to any of our Shinshinim alumni, we will be happy to forward to them all. We continue to pray for shalom al Yisrael – peace in Israel.

Debbie Spiegel

From Yaniv Cohen (Shinshin 2009-2010)

As for us, it isn’t easy with all the missiles… I was drafted to the reserve 12 days ago… So down here we have much more CODE RED then in tel aviv area… Hopefully I won’t have any work (I am a medic).

From Or Shalem (Shinshin 2011-12)

Thank you very much!
As you know those days are very intense but everyone working hard to finish it soon as possible… a lot of friends are in Gaza right now so we are just praying it will finish with minimum loss.

We are not fighting just for the state of Israel, we are fighting for the Jewish nation

Amazing to hear those words especially from you. I very appreciate all the love we are getting from mails that our friends from HBT sending us. Send everyone our love, and we are also thinking about you- you are remind us that as soldiers in the IDF, we are not fighting just for the state of Israel, we are fighting for the Jewish nation. and we are telling it to our friends too.

You are reminding us the meaningful year we had with you, few “young adults” who coming to have a year over the ocean, and than going back home prouder  than we were arrive to you- as Jews and as Zionist, and it’s mean more than anytime on this days.

Be sure that the IDF doing everything to make it better.
How are you? How is Adam and the kids? The community?

We heard you became the senior rabbi! Mai and I were so happy when we heard that! Sure you are doing the best job!

Much love to you and all the Splansky and the Holly Blossom family!
Or Shalem

It is also very hard for me to hear what the world think about us.

Dear Yael!

It was so moving to read your mail! Thank you so much for everything!

We are all doing ok but it is a very sad time with all the young soldiers that were killed.

It is also very hard for me to hear what the world think about us.

And our peers have been through wars before but now its our war our friends that are killed or injured and our turn to keep Israel safe and to let our families sleep at nights.

We get a lot of mails from Toronto and its been helping me to feel your support . I wish I could come to Toronto and explain to everyone what have we been doing here.

Hope that you are all doing fine.
Gefen Chazen

Please know that we are thinking of you and hoping for you every day

Dear Mai and Or

We have spoken to and emailed Or – we asked Or about you Mai but have not been in direct contact with you in far too long.

Mai – I just read your text to your Leo Baeck family – it was painful and beautiful – thanks.

It is horrible that Hamas is taking away some of the  joy you should be having at your beautiful ages – but such seems to be the reality of life in Israel. We hope daily for the safety of you and your families and we hope that the IDF will quickly complete its mission and bestow on Israel a life – or at least a long time – of peace and health.

Please know that we are thinking of you and hoping for you every day.

Please tell us what you can of what you are doing – and whether there is anything we can do for you. In the 6 Day War I called the Israeli Embassy and said I wanted to go to Israel to volunteer – they thanked me and told me to stay home because they were too busy to look after another person – I am not going to volunteer but if there is anything we can do for you please let us know.

In the meantime love and best wishes to your families and you and please keep us informed about how you are and what you are doing.
Steve Posen

Thanks God, now things are better and most of my friends got back home safe, including me.

Dear Rabbi Splansky,

Your message is so amazing, just as I would expect. It really made me stronger and realize (again) how amazing is the relationship we’ve build last year. The past time wasn’t easy. I was very busy and didn’t get much free time. Thanks God, now things are better and most of my friends got back home safe, including me.

I’m not sure if you know how big was the impact of Holy Blossom on me. Since I came back home, I want to see the closest Reform shuls to my home, which is not that close.

Now in the army I can’t really do much with my desire to be a part of the Reform movement. But for the future I’m sure I’ll be a part of a community here, as I know how important it is to bring the Reform movement to more people here.

Thank you so much!

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Showing 8 comments
  • Susan Baskin and Family

    Our dear ShinShinim:
    Thank you for writing to us–it is SO good to hear from you. We know that you have so little time to write. We think of you and your families and your friends, and we send our love and support. We are proud of you and Israel. Am Yisrael Chai!

  • Beny Maissner

    These are some of the responses our Shinshinim wrote to me personally.
    I am so proud of each and every one of them. may you all be blessed and protected

    How amazing is to hear from all of you and know that you think of us and care for us!
    Thank you for the kind words, concern and help!
    Glad to know I was in Blossom are still my family, even after so many years!
    Think you and misses,

    Hey Beny
    There are no words to describe how great it is to hear from you! This situation unfortunately caught us all not ready, especially the tunnels..
    I am serving in Intelligence and working very hard trying to get through this as quickly as possible with security achievements.
    Serving in intelligence is so unfortunately the joy my family. I’m not in Gaza, but am doing a lot of work behind the scenes .. I have many friends who are currently fighting for a long time in Gaza. Thank God everyone is OK, but scary to hear every night about the new dead..
    Hope that soon all will be over and you return to Israel without alarms and get to celebrate many more birthdays.
    How are you and the whole family?
    How Holy Blossom?
    Send warm regards!
    Beny Shalom!
    Good to hear from you. Hopes that despite the situation, you had a good trip and you managed to enjoy it. Next time you’re in the country let us know, we’d love to meet you. We miss you. Or and I am currently in the military. Or is serving central Israel in intelligence and I am in the Air Force. Time is not simple here in our country, I hope the situation will improve soon with the minimum casualties to meet the objectives of the operation.
    How is your family in Canada? What’s new with you? Stay Connected
    Mai לוי-

    Shalom Beny and Shavua Tov. A good week!
    You touched my heart with the words you have written. I must say the situation donw in the south is very tense and unpleasant, especially now with the tunnels discovered near the area where I am, and repeated threats of kidnappings and are getting more frequent and stronger.
    It is very encouraging to know that you think of us and pray for us. It is fun and reassuring and easier to face this situation, it makes it more real – as it probably also works for you on the other side.
    I’ll add that I do not pray and go to synagogue, but there are a carved words in my heart and now I repeatedly repeat them. “Our Father Rock of Israel and the fate of Israel bless the beginning of our redemption.”
    Have a quiet week and we have no bad news!
    Yaniv Cohen

  • Lindi Rivers

    All of you are in our hearts. You made a lasting imprint on the lives of those lucky enough to spend time with you, learn from you and house you. We pray for your safety and for peace in our beloved Israel. Stay strong. We send you blessings and our love.

  • Beny Maissner

    we miss you and think of you all the time
    Situation seems grim but we pray for Shalom and God’s protection over you and our Eretz Israel

  • Beny Maissner

    I too add my voice of concern and prayers for the peace and anticipated calmness in Israel. I was in Israel at the beginning of the war and was caught several times with the alert sirens. we had to jump out of the car and find a shoulder on the road from Jerusalem to TA
    To all our Shinshinim I send my love and prayers for safe and security
    we miss you all and think of you all the time
    With my blessings

  • Diane Wilson

    I want you to know that all of us are thinking of you, and we want you to remain safe. Your cause is just, your goal is big, our identity is huge. Here in Canada, people look throughout the day to find news of Israel and Israelis. If we could we would send a very big hug, because afterall, we are in this together. Always. Please stay safe.

  • Joanne Godel Blatt

    To all the past shinshinim….Gal, Geffen, Mai, Or, Maya, Alon….
    We are thinking of all of you and pray for your safety and for the safety of your family and friends during this horrible time. We are so proud of your service to the state of Israel and cannot thank you enough. We stand with Israel!

  • Bonnie Goldberg

    While I have been able to text our shinshin Mai and assure myself that she is – at this minute safe – it is small comfort given that that we know that Mai, her family, and all our wonderful shinshim friends from that year (Ariel, Or, Shir, Shira …) are in such difficult and trying times. We stand with Israel and we keep our Israeli family in our hearts and at the forefront of our minds each and every day.

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