When Briell Giancola and Eden Uzrad reconnected in Israel over Passover, it was with the easy comraderie of old friends. They lay around on the couch, made friendship bracelets, and got caught up on each others’ lives. The fact that they had never actually met before was inconsequential.
Briell, of Fairport and Eden, of Reut, Israel (next door to our Partnership community of Modi’in), have been "e-pals" for over a year now. Hitting it off right away after "meeting" through the Education Bridge, a Partnership program linking religious schools in Rochester with classrooms in Modi’in, the two have been best of friends ever since.
Briell is an 8th grade student at Temple Sinai and Eden is a 9th grader at MOR Junior High School in Modi’in. They started by corresponding, graduated to phone calls (early in the morning for Briell and late afternoon for Eden) and then to web cam technology for face to face visits. Though living on opposite sides of the world, they immediately found common ground, talking about school (successes and challenges), hobbies, friends and the like. The contrasts between life in the US and life in Israel made it interesting. In Briell’s words, "it’s just so much fun talking to someone over there."
This spring, the girls, as well as their families, got to meet. Briell and her family, including grandmother Geula (beloved chef at the JCafe), went to Israel for Passover. Briell and her sister Hannah, mother Iris and father Scott went to Modi’in to visit with Eden one afternoon. Eden and her family offered abundant hospitality. They warmly invited them into their home and insisted on taking them to an aunt and uncle’s for a barbeque that evening.
The best part for Briell and Eden of course was finally getting to meet. They felt like they had known each other for years, according to Briell, and spent several joyous hours together. They parted tearfully, with promises of future visits.
The Education Bridge, it seems, will carry them until then.