Spark Note: Bridging The Gap Between Atlanta and Israel

Shinshinim Atlanta creates bridges between Atlanta and Israel by bringing tastes of Israel to Jewish Atlanta. The Shinshinim are Israeli high school graduates who defer their military service for a shnat sherut (year of service) abroad. The program is a partnership between the Jewish Agency For Israel, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and local partners including synagogues, Jewish camps, Jewish after school programs, youth groups, the MJCCA, Jewish day schools, and summer camps. 

Especially as the world seems to have lost the meaning of the world “normal,” staying deeply connected becomes more important than ever. As the situation became more serious and schools started closing all of the Shinshinim had to pack up everything and move back to Israel. Though the Shinshinim look forward to returning once the situation has been resolved, for now, the focus has been on how we can continue to provide that personal connection that means so much to people – especially as the isolation continues.

“During those confusing times, many teens are trying to find their way between their new online school routine, whatever it might look like if at all, and the confusion of spending the ‘best years of their lives’ quarantined at home. Being teens ourselves, we understand their difficulties and what they need to deal with. That’s one of the main reasons we try and make it so we’ll be there for the teens of our community, in whatever way it may be. Whether it’s through continuing to join classes at Weber at AJA, through youth movements like NFTY, USY and BBYO which we are continuing to stay connected even from half a world apart.  The other very special thing that we do – which happened naturally – is simply keeping in contact with each other.” – Dor Almog, Shinshin

Particularly due to their closeness in age, the Shinshinim have shared very meaningful connections with many Atlanta teens they met through our partner organizations and host families. On the flip side, because the Shinshinim are in Israel and a year further along, they are able to provide a different, perspective. For example, for high school seniors, this was supposed to be the highlight of their high school lives, the fact that they have someone a bit older to talk to that isn’t part of their daily routine makes a very nice and meaningful addition to their connection with Israel.

“It was really hard for us to have to go back to Israel; but I can safely say for all the Shinshinim, we are truly proud and grateful that they have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing Atlanta community. I sure that some of the connections we made with teens will last for a long time.” – Dor Almog, Shinshin

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