25 Jun 2018 Performance Report – A Year of Service in the Jewish Diaspora
Born and raised in Israel in a small city called Hod Hasharon, Shachar knew from the moment she learned about Service Year Shlichim that she wanted to participate. Derived from the Hebrew acronym for shnat sherut or “year of service,” hundreds of high school graduates are granted special permission annually to postpone their time in the military to be ShinShinim (Gap Year Israeli emissaries) in Israel and abroad.
A primary focus of ShinShinim is to make Israel more accessible to the global Jewish world through educational activities around Jewish and Israeli culture, holidays and Hebrew instruction.
Shachar has been serving in Budapest, Hungary, since 2018. “I knew I would get the experience of a lifetime. I didn’t even know how right I was,” Shachar says. “Since I started this program, I understand what it means to be Jewish when you don’t live in Israel, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. I’ve also been able to really deepen my connection with Judaism.”
The move to Budapest was both thrilling and challenging for Shachar, who was anxious over her unfamiliarity with the language, traditions and mannerisms of the city and its people.”
Since I started this program, I understand what it means to be Jewish when you don’t live in Israel, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. I’ve also been able to really deepen my connection with Judaism.
“Hungary is not the easiest place to bring Israel’s message, considering the country’s complicated relationship with Israel and anti-Semitism. But we have really changed the Jewish story in this community, bringing Israeli pride to a part of Europe where it’s often lacking. After living in Hungary for nearly a year, I can say it’s truly an amazing place with a very warm community,” Shachar says.
As ShinShinim are young adults, often on their own for the first time, it’s even more impressive how much of an influence they have in a year’s time. Because of the success of the participants in Hungary, next year the number of ShinShinim there will double. Their young spirit and endless motivation make a lasting impact.
After her year abroad, Shachar will join the Israel Defense Forces as a member of the Intelligence Unit, a role she now feels carries a deeper sense of purpose.
“When living in Israel among Israelis, I couldn’t really comprehend or understand the meaning of living a Jewish lifestyle as a choice,” Shachar says. “But since coming to Budapest, I’ve learned how to appreciate my country and identity more… and that appreciation is something that will stay with me from now on.”
113 Gap Year Israeli emissaries served in more than 24 Jewish communities around the world, spreading a love of Israel, Hebrew language and pride in Jewish identity to nearly 34,000 people.
No matter the situation, the people of Israel will never have to face the aftermath alone. Together we carry a message of great hope.
No one should feel the need to hide their Jewish or pro-Israel identity. We empower young Israelis to help Jewish students feel safe and connected on campuses around the world.
Because our global Jewish story is strengthened through our individual connections, we empower young people to pass on our culture and traditions.