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ShinshinimNoam Nadler and Bar Cohen, our Shinshinim for 2015-16 shared a final d’var Yisrael this past Shabbat.

Their comments were from the heart. We are honoured that they were with us this year. We wish them hatzlacha –success in their travels to camp, and look forward to their return at the end of the summer.

Hi everyone and Shabbat shalom,

The time we didn’t want to come, came, and with it being the end of the year it’s also the end of the year for us. This will unfortunately be our last family service.

To sum up this amazing, crazy, difficult, challenging and empowering year we would like to share a story with you that represents a bit of what we’re feeling and the only way we were able to summarize it.

A few days ago when I was at my friend’s house, as we were watching TV, I noticed the there was a huge picture of the dead sea on the living room wall. After that I left the house to take the Bathurst 7 bus with my friend, and while we were talking to each other in Hebrew two young girls approached us in excited Hebrew saying that they too speak Hebrew, they learn it every day and one day they hope to go visit this beautiful place called Israel that they hear about daily. On the way we saw dozens of sigh encouraging people to support Israel, either through bonds, UJA or many other amazing organizations. When we got off the bus I notice a kid wearing a tzahal sweatshirt. We walked in to Bialik for a group program but before we began the kids and us sang the Tikvah, they sang it loud and clear in a way that we could never sing OH CANADA. Right next to the TOV LI lunch there were JAFFA oranges, the kind that the schools always remember to get. When the day ended I offered a lift by a Mom who never met me, I wasn’t even part of her insititutions but she still convinced me she lives right next to my house on avenue and Wilson, so I would agree for her to take me, even though later on I found out she lives on Eglinton and Bathurst, and even though I’m foreign, I know that’s not right next to my house. The whole way she spoke to me about Israel, and all the fundraisers she’s attended and how much she loves it and then added that she would love to go visit Israel one day, that place that she loves so much. After that I went and spent the evening with my host family, the opened their home and heart to me.

This story isn’t real, well it all is but it didn’t all happen in the same day, these are memories we both have from this year, a year that was filled with Israel, not only in the big things, but the little things throughout that day, a sign, picture, or even a magnet on the fridge.

This may sound like a completely normal day, but we don’t take it for granted. These are the things we got back when we thought we mostly came to give. These are the things, the little things, we will take back with is to our home Israel. All these little things remind us of this unconditional love you all have for Israel, a love that we couldn’t have understood before we came here, a love that reminds us how much support we have outside of Israel, how much love and pride. Its so amazing because it’s a matter of choice, it’s a choice to be involved, to support a country you don’t live in, to seek the Israeli food, to learn Hebrew and make sure youre kids do so aswell. To host a shinshin in your community and in your house even if theyre crazy teenagers that eat all your food and come home in the middle of the night is a choice.

This past Sunday was the walk with Israel. The downtown stopped for a couple of hours as 20,000 people came to walk run and stand with Israel. We lost our voices screaming proudly am Israel chai and other Israeli songs with strangers. This was probably one of the most powerful events we took part in. Seeing the groups of 10 protesters swallowed in a sea of blue shirts and flags reminded us the power of this community, the support and the absolute unconditional love for this incredible country. This might not be a small thing but just another milestone in our year.

This year was full with ups and downs, moments we will remember forever and ones we would prefer to forget, but all these experiences made this year as incredible as it was, educating, empowering challenging and rewarding. We learnt so much, about reform Judaism, about Jews in the diaspora, which is something you can never understand before you see it from up close. We learnt what home away from home is, we learnt that family doesn’t have to be blood related and we learned that Israel is the home for far more people than 8 million.

We also learned the answers to some popular questions

What do you want to talk about?
The weather

And what happened 2 years ago?
An awful awful ice storm

What time would work for you to go out to lunch?
11:30, in the morning

Where do you want to eat?
Tim Horton’s

What would you like on your donut?
Maple syrup

And in your coffee?
Maple syrup

What are you allergic to?
Anything and everything

What do you do on your free time?

What do you watch on TV?

What do you dream of at night?

And how are the Maple Leafs?
Oh they suck

What is the correct answer or response to anything always?

Who is your true love?
The Blue Jays?

To sum it all up we would like to thank some very special people who made this year so great and make leaving so hard.

Our first thanks goes to the one and only Debbie Spiegel our supervisor and the director of education. Thank you so much for all your support, guidance and understanding. Thank you for caring for us throughout the year and for being so committed to the incredible program. Thank you for everything you have done for use.

We would also like to thank Avra Rosen, our Lay leader for making sure we are being taken care of, for finding us these extraordinary host families and for taking time out of your busy schedule for us and this program.

We would like to thank Rabbi Jordan Helfman for always having a huge warm smile on his face and making this such a lively service and for Rabbi Michael Satz who we loved working with and always received the kindest responses and care.

And of course to the spectacular and talented David Gershon who was our best friend from day 1 and always made these services a pleasure to attend.

To our host families. What is there to say? How do we even start thanking you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for us. You are truly special people and saying goodbye to all of you is going to be one of the hardest things we do. You have provided us this year everything we needed and more and loved us when we needed it the most. We do not know many families who would take an Israeli teenager stranger into their house, we tend to be a bit crazy sometimes, and treat them like they are one of their own.

We love you all so much and cannot express how much we are grateful for everything you’ve done for us this year. Ohavim Otchem.

And last but certainly not least, to the Holy blossom awesome community. It was our privilege to be part of your family. Thank you for all you taught us, for enhancing our love for Israel, for the maturity and independence we empowered this year and for letting us be part of this amazing place. We hope we managed to bring in some of our Israel into your lives.

Our next step is the army, and we definitely feel we won’t only be protecting Israel, but the country of the Jewish nation.

Thank you all so much and have an amazing weekend and Shabbat Shalom.

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