For more than a decade, the Macks Center for Jewish Education, through funding allocated by The Associated and in partnership with Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), has brought two Israeli teens to Baltimore to strengthen relations between Israel and our community. This year, we are very fortunate to be one of five hubs chosen to host eight Shinshinim in an effort to deepen the personal connections between the young Israelis and the Baltimore Jewish community. We sat down and spoke to this energetic, personable group of teens and feel like we already know Yonaton, Shira, Efrat, Shani, Matania, Yael, Tomer and Bar.
Why did you decide to become a shinshin?
“It’s different for everyone, but for me, I was a counselor at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. It had a strong impact on me and I felt like I was making a difference with the children I was working with and so I wanted to do it again.” –Shani Kalmanovich, JCC
How does Jewish life in Baltimore compare to your Jewish life in Israel?
“It’s very different. I came from a religious city in Israel. Although the Orthodox host family I’m living with is similar to my family at home, you can really feel the difference in the community. In Israel, you have many more options to eat Kosher food and attend Jewish schools for example. Here you need to be very specific with your choices.” – Matania Grinvald, Ohr Chadash Academy
How do you feel you can make an impact on the children and young families in Baltimore?
“I went to shul on Rosh Hashana and one of the girls from my class ran to me to give me a hug shouting ‘Shira’ in the middle of the shul. So, I feel like the connections between us and the children is the most impactful.” – Shira Avital, Ohr Chadash Academy