Already a month? And is it only a month? Those are the two questions we ask ourselves when we see the work of our two fabulous Shinshinim. It seems as though they just arrived here but the impact on our community is enormous.

by Oshrat Barel Weintraub Israel Center Director
Leah and Bar are meeting on a weekly basis with kids, teens, adults and a special needs group to educate them about Israel and its culture. Leah is using Eliad Nachum music (her favorite Israeli singer) and Bar brings his love of basketball as one of many tools to connect Tucson to contemporary Israel. Both Leah and Bar have a weekly fixed schedule that include Religious schools and youth movement on Sundays, during the week THA K-8, JCC - ECE, J Care, Special needs groups, seniors, Shabbat services, lunch and learns and more. Each activity and program enriches both the community and our Shinshinim, who are willing to invest their time also to learn about the Jewish community and its history. The feedback from all of our partners are great and the collaboration is outstanding. We are already working on bringing at least two Shinshinim next year!

The new Shinshinim program is called Shinshinim L'Tucson brought by the Weintraub Israel Center in conjunction with our Partnership office in Israel, local Jewish Agencies and congregations: Jewish Federation of Southern AZ, Tucson J, Congregation Anshei Israel, Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Chaverim, Congregation Bet Shalom, Tucson Hebrew Academy, Hillel and Hebrew High and with the help of the Jewish Agency for Israel who initiate this program and recruit, screened and trained the shinshinim.

Leah's first month in Tucson, as written by Leah Avuno, Tucson Shinshinit: "Since we arrived in Tucson last month, we did not stop traveling - Disneyland (!!), Sabino Canyon, Get Air, bowling, Desert Museum, theaters, restaurants and ice cream and this is just the first month! Before I create the wrong impression about what it is to be a Shinshin I should point out that Bar and I are the first ShinShinim in Tucson so we had to start a lot of things from scratch.>

We are working with infants, children, teenagers, students, families and with special needs group, which means that we give a lot of ourselves every day that passes. Prepare activities, talk about ourselves and our life in Israel and try to answer any questions people ask us. I find myself wondering who I really am? What is my relationship with Judaism and Israel, except, that I was born a Jew?

So yes, it's not easy at all but I get a lot more than I give. I get warmth and love every second that it is not at all obvious! Community that embraces, worried, asking and inviting without thinking twice. I got to meet people with a huge pure soul. I am blessed with children that hug me as soon as I set foot in the classroom, parents that told me warm words and the very special youth here who understands every word I say even though I mix Hebrew and English. People invite me to dinner parties or people that what they like is to sit with me for a cup of coffee (tea for me) and hear me talk nonstop although I could be "digging" sometimes.

The biggest gift being shinshinit, is to be exposed to customs never seen before, doing things you never tried or dare and especially learn about myself-and I'm still learning.







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25 Sep 2016 / 22 Elul 5776 0