In lifeatholyblossom, stories


See what our HBT Families have to say about their amazing experiences hosting Shinshinim.

We are still looking for families for Noga and Gil… If you are interested please contact our lay leader Gillian Helfield for more information.

The Helfield-Klein Family

We have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to host Shinshinim and it was an amazing experience. They became a part of our family, but we became a part of theirs –and developed a very strong connection to Israel. As a direct result of that experience we travelled to Israel for the first time four years ago – and stayed with our shinshinim family, and toured with them – and then Gillian became involved with Israel Engagement as a Shinshinim Lay Leader.

It is hard to describe the energy, enthusiasm and spirit that pervades the house when the shinshinim are around – but it is infectious and magical. If you haven’t already hosted, give it some serious thought.

It will change your life.

The Neiss Arbess Family


Our family has participated in the Shinshinim program in 2011 and 2014. In order to really explain why it was so worthwhile and well, so much fun – I am proud to give a tribute to David Letterman and share with you my top 10 reasons why having a shinshinim is the best idea – ever!

  1. 1. You get an immediate ROLE MODEL for your kids. Alon Shacham (2011) and Taly Epstein (2014) made time to not only hang out with our kids, but taught them how to be responsible, independent teenagers.
  2. New Israeli RECIPES! Alon made his family favourite meat sauce  – the kids loved it!
  3. You get to increase your HEBREW VOCABULARY. We all picked up new words and still use them to this day – especially the fun “slang” ones such as “Sababa”
  4. You know exactly when all the JEWISH HOLIDAYS are. These Shinshinim are very busy preparing programs for every Jewish holiday during the year. I was the first to tell my friends “Hey, did you know that Yom Hatzma’ut is just around the corner?”
  5. IMG_2300Your family learns TEAMWORK. You will witness groups of hard working Israeli teenagers working together to create the very best programs.
  6. You get an ISRAELI EDUCATION. Although we have access to the news, you get the REAL STORY from your Shinshin. They tell you exactly what it really means.
  7. Your family has SUPPORT. There may be a time when there are questions or concerns that can’t be answered by your shinshin, your liaison and the organizers at UJA are there 24/7 to help you.
  8. You have an INSTANT FAMILY in Israel. We have visited with both Alon’s and Taly’s family in Israel and they made sure that we saw all of their favourite areas and by the way, they fed us very very well!
  9. You are also their SECOND PARENT. While they are here, they may need someone to listen and a shoulder to lean on and they appreciate it so much.And the final reason why having a shinshinim is the best idea ever is…

And sadly.. you won’t want them to leave!

The Goldberg Abramson Family

And more fun with MaiI often say that having Mai Levi live with us from March to September 2012 was the greatest gift we have ever – and will – ever give our daughters. Mai joined our family around the time when our oldest daughter Arly was becoming bat mitzvah. We shared this joyous occasion with Mai, and it was as if she had always been part of our family. Having her share such a momentous event in our life deepened our relationship right from the start. She was a pleasure to have in the house – whether it was teaching our younger daughter, Remy, Hebrew vocabulary, having long chats with Arly about life, making sushi dinner for the family, or just hanging out, our lives were immeasurably enriched by having Mai. Hosting a ShinShin also gave us entrée into other aspects of our community. We quickly came to know and love the other ShinShinim, often hosting the kids in our house.

We welcomed Mai’s family into our home when they came to Toronto for Passover, instantly creating “Israeli family” which we had never had before. We participated in community events with a new purpose, such as the celebrations for Yom Haatzmaut. We became close to other host families as well, developing strong new friendships.  In fact, we are hoping to participate in the 10th anniversary ShinShinim Host Family Mission to Israel this coming December. We have remained in contact with Mai and are counting down the days until we see her again!

Bonnie Goldberg, Adam Abramson, Arly and Remy

Shinshin Bar Cohen

Having the word ‘family’ in the term makes you think that the connection between us should just be there immediately and unconditionally. But to be honest, I don’t know how many of you have ever had the experience of either hosting someone or being hosted by someone else that you have never met before, but it is not that simple.

Making a person feel home away from home, part of your family, where he is confident enough to talk to you and share with you his experiences from the day without feeling the need of being politically correct or even just asking for a nail clipper and some ear picks, that’s what our host families are doing every day and for that we are incredibly grateful.

We know how difficult it is being in that position and we cannot express in words our appreciation for all of their efforts of making us feel that way.  I want to say thank you to my host families.

And taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to encourage any Holy Blossom families that ever thought about hosting a shinshin, or think that they know someone who would qualify for hosting, to contact myself or Gillian Helfield. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have!

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Most Recent Projects