Our Shinshinim, Bar Cohen and Noam Nadler, have been with us all year on a Shnat Sherut – a year of service. Theirs is outside of their country, experiencing our Canadian Jewish community. In these two stories, one from Noam and the other from Bar, we learn more about each of them.
After returning to Israel (home) at the beginning of January – each of them brings an added perspective – Noam about Aliyah, food and Israelis. Bar shares with us some of the experiences of his friends who are also doing a year of service, but in Israel. He has some amazing friends.
From Noam Nadler
Hi everyone and Shabbat Shalom!
We hope you all had a great break and got a lot of rest.
For the break we went back to Israel to visit our families and friends and had an amazing time.
As you all now lately the situation in Israel has been very tense, and with everything going on there sometimes we tend to forget to look at the positive things.
In the past year more than 30,000 people have made Aliyah to Israel, the biggest number recorded since 2003.
When I heard about these numbers it surprised me that despite everything going on in Israel people still want to move there. This phenomena might have different explanations, one of them is that people want to be in Israel and support it in any way they can, they want to be a part of Israel.
We have been in Toronto for 4 months, the longest time for both of us away from home. We have missed our families but also Israel. The long time I have been away gave me a different perspective and I came back with so much more appreciation for Israel, for things I’ve never noticed before.
I missed the people that are sometimes pushy and loud but at the same time so warm and loving.
Sometimes so straightforward, not polite even, say everything that comes to mind but at the same time honest in a beautiful way.
I missed the Israeli food, those of you who visited Israel before, surely know. The variety of salads, fruits, cheeses, the HUMUS!! and above all a Good shwarma or falafel, and with all the respect to Dr. Laffa it’s not consider a good one, not by the Israeli standard….
I missed the views, I didn’t understand how beautiful Israel is, such a small country, less than 1 percent of the size of Canada, but how diverse in climate, people and landscape. Jerusalem with the holy wall and on top of it the golden dome. Masada and the view of the Dead Sea in Sunrise, The sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Caesarea, Akko, Jaffa and above all Tel Aviv, the white city, the city that never sleeps, which is by many means better and livelier than Manhattan.
Last Thursday an Israeli army officer, Yishai Rosales, was killed during a training. A mortar shell that was fired by mistake hit him. He was the elder son of a Jewish family from Mexico that made Aliya 15 years ago, the funeral was done the same day, at 1 am in Jerusalem.
The family didn’t have many friends and asked, in facebook, that people that didn’t know Yishai will join the ceremony.
More than 1,500 people that didn’t have any connection to Yishai or his family, came at 1 o’clock at night to pay respect.
There are so many beautiful things about Israel that we sometimes, even as Israelis, take for granted and to see these numbers of people making Aliyah made us realize that all these people see and notice all of these beautiful things despite everything that is going on in Israel and choose to move to Israel because of these special things and not in spite of them.
From Bar Cohen:
About a week and a half ago, Noam and I returned from a winter break vacation in Israel, after four months here in Toronto away from our home, family and friends.
These four months have taught me to appreciate many things, that before I took for granted. Some of those things are environmental – the ocean and the heat. But the most important things that I’ve learned to appreciate more are the people in my life, my family and friends. Well, family is family, and that makes them kind of obligated to miss me when I’m gone… But true friends… That’s a bit harder to find, especially when after graduation each of us goes on with his life, joins the army or does a gap year of any kind.
This Dvar Israel, I wanted to dedicate to my friends from home, but in order not to bore you with their life stories and hobbies, I would like to share with you the amazing service and volunteer work they’re doing in their year of service.
As you may know, or not, the word ‘shinshinim’ is actually initials of the Hebrew Letter Shin twice. It stands for shnat sherut – or in English, year of service. Many of you know us as shinshinim, but what most of you don’t know is that we are not the only shinshinim out there. While there are 98 JAFI shinshinim outside of Israel, the majority of service work done by shinshinim is actually in Israel, where around 3000 shinshinim are doing their year of service.
Outside of Israel, shinshinim volunteer in the Jewish communities. We go to Jewish day schools, temples and supplementary schools, to promote Israel engagement. My Israeli friends, as shinshinim, mostly work with children at risk, last chance kids and kids that come from less fortunate homes and environments.
In order for you all to fully understand all of these terms, I will give a few examples for these kind of facilities:
‘Migdal or’ (Lighthouse) – is a unique project, established by a few major voluntary associations and the municipality of Bat Yam, that offers children at risk, kids that either chose to leave their homes or were forced to by their parents, a variety of both educational and social activities, a place to stay and hot meals. Some of my friends that are shinshinim in Israel volunteer at Migdal or. They come in the evenings, spend time with these children and run programs. Their goal is first to make these kids feel like there is someone out there that cares about them, and to encourage them to take their lives in their hands, join a school and get some education.
A few examples for other kind of institutions they volunteer at are- Ben Gurion, Bracha, Ya’ad, Shachar, Branko Vise, all different elementary and high schools for children with behavior problems (tend to be violent), children with special needs, kids at risk and children that come from extremely low income families. The Branko Vise high school is a last chance school, for kids that were kicked out of every kind of school they’ve been to, and it’s literally their last chance. If they were to be kicked out of this school, they will not be able to participate in any other school. The shinshinim help and supports the children. They offer them someone to talk to, help with their homework, and try to make it easier for those kids to fit in these programs.
Just before I finish, I would like to share with you something that one of my best friends wrote about a conversation she’s had with a girl in one of these schools. Not everything translated perfectly from Hebrew, but still I find it amazing. I find that it both reveals the times in which our year of giving provides us with simple moments of getting back, and proves the point, of how you can learn something from anyone, even from the people you’d least expect, like a young girl that comes from a less fortunate environment. If you put the innocent childish expressions aside, you’ll be able to find true wisdom in her words.