ShinShinim are coming to Tidewater

June 23, 2022

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Aya Sever of Kefar Sava, located 15 miles north of Tel Aviv, and Alma Ben Chorin, of Hertzliya, will fly into Norfolk this August to live in Tidewater through summer 2023. Both 18, Sever and Chorin are two of the 200 Israeli high school graduates that are among Israel’s most energetic, hard-working, and effective shlichim (emissaries).

In Hebrew, these young adults are called ShinShinim, which stands for shnat sherut, meaning ‘year of service.’ They are part of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s gap-year program that sends Israeli high school graduates to volunteer in Jewish communities around the world for a year prior to beginning their mandatory military service. United Jewish Federation of Tidewater works with JAFI as one of its Israel and Overseas partners and will facilitate the local program. ShinShinim spend the year immersed in the local Jewish community, teaching about Israeli culture and society, the Hebrew language, current affairs, and Jewish tradition.

The appeal of these young emissaries crosses all age boundaries as they arrive ready to work and connect with all ages. They bond with young children as well as with students their own age. Plus, adults in the communities treat them like their own children and grandchildren. Tidewater’s ShinShinim will work in a variety of community environments including with the Simon Family Jewish Community Center, local synagogues, Jewish day schools, senior centers, university Hillels, and more. Known throughout the national Jewish community for its strong ties to Israel, Tidewater will be able to deepen its connection to the Jewish homeland with the ShinShinim initiative.

Aya Sever

This won’t be Aya Sever’s first trip to the United States. She’s visited family in New York with her twin sister and two other siblings. “I am so excited to meet everyone in Tidewater, and I am especially excited to work with the children,” says Sever. “I am not nervous; I just can’t wait to get there and get started. This Shlichut experience is an extraordinary, once-in-a-ilfetime opportunity, and is absolutely my dream. I hope to build new friendships and deepen the Tidewater community’s bond with Israel.”

Alma Ben Chorin

Alma Ben Chorin, one of three children, also has family in the States, and has spent time with them in Boston. “I have done so much with the Israeli Scouts and I am excited to bring those programs and experiences to Tidewater!” says Chorin. “I think that being a ShinShin is a great way to build on the work I have already done with the Tsofim (Israeli Scouts) and prepare me for what comes next in giving back to Israel and the global Jewish community.”

Sever and Chorin have been preparing for their year of service by getting to know each other in Israel, meeting halfway between their cities to talk more about how all their experiences can come together for a great year of programming and building relationships.

Participants in the ShinShinim program live with host families in the Jewish community for an average of three months before moving to another home.

Those who are fortunate enough to host these dynamic teens will be able to share meals with them, take them on vacation, to a baseball game, or countless other experiences—creating lasting connections that will last a lifetime.

For more information on the ShinShinim program, or to get involved, visit JewishVA.org/ShinShinim or contact Nofar Trem at NTrem@UJFT.org or 757-321-2334.

-Sierra Lautman


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