Atlanta ShinShinim Ready to Make an Impact | The Jewish Agency
Atlanta shinshinim 2020

ShinShinim in Atlanta Are Ready to Make an Impact

ShinShinim in Atlanta Are Ready to Make an Impact
After quarantining for two weeks at an Atlanta Airbnb, Maya and Yael, both 18, are ready to start interacting with the Jewish community and make an impact, despite COVID-19

The teens are ShinShinim (service year Israeli emissaries), high school graduates who were granted special permission to postpone their time in the Israel Defense Forces to serve in a Jewish community abroad. The ShinShinim bring Israel to life through educational activities around Jewish and Israeli culture, holidays, Hebrew instruction and more.
Maya (right )and Yael (second to left) with their fellow ShinShinim in Atlanta during Sukkot | Photo provided by Maya

So far, Yael feels like she is in a movie as this is her first time in America. Hailing from Beit Shemesh in Israel, she’s the Orthodox ShinShinit (female service year emissary) among the five teens who came to the Atlanta community for the year.

“I wanted to be a ShinShinit because I realized that not all Jews are in Israel and I wanted to bring Israel to those Jews living around the world,” said Yael. “The ShinShinim help Jews connect with Israel in a special way and really share the beauty of Israel.”

Yael is excited to connect with people from the Atlanta community though a bit nervous about her English skills and dealing with coronavirus restrictions. She’ll be working in both elementary and high schools as well as various local synagogues.

“At first I questioned how the ShinShinim will be able to work with Corona and whether the risk was worth it. But then I realized that during this period, Jews overseas need us more than ever… we are the only connection they have to Israel.”

Meanwhile, Maya from Binyamina has been to the U.S. before, but this time has been unlike any other visit here.

“COVID has impacted our experience so far greatly, and I know that it will be a big part of the coming year,” said Maya. “We will have to be more understanding and patient as during the year a portion of our work will be done through Zoom, and the rest will be socially distanced and cautious.”

Nevertheless, Maya is glad to be in Atlanta, a community she called “warm and welcoming.” She’s excited to see how Jewish life here differs from home and hopefully, make a real impact on the way the Jews locally see and relate to Israel.

“I believe that maintaining a strong connection between Jewish communities around the world and Israel is very important,” shared Maya. “Being a ShinShin is a very special way to help maintain that connection and help World Jewry create a more personal relationship with Israel.”