ShinShinim Serving P2G Sister Cities | The Jewish AgencyShinShinim Serving Their P2G Sister Cities
Shelly at school in St Louis | Photo provided by Shelly

ShinShinim Serving Their P2G Sister Cities

ShinShinim Serving Their P2G Sister Cities
Shelly and Alma are from Yokneam in Israel but are spending the year in St Louis and Atlanta respectively, serving as ShinShinim (service year Israeli emissaries) in their American Partnership2Gether sister cities.

Shelly at school in St Louis | Image provided by Shelly

Shelly, 18, is a ShinShinit (female service year Israeli emissary) in St Louis who is from Yokneam, a city close to Haifa in the north of Israel and one of the Israeli cities paired with St Louis through the Partnership2Gether (P2G) Yokneam-Megiddo Atlanta-St. Louis partnership. She’s excited to be in America for the first time, experiencing life in a Jewish community outside of Israel.

“I thought the idea of being a ShinShinit was so fascinating and I wanted to make an impact. It’s such a cool opportunity to learn about Jewish life in America and see firsthand how it’s different from life in Israel,” shared Shelly. “It’s especially meaningful to be doing this in one of Yokneam’s P2G sister cities because P2G is so amazing in how it really helps Jews globally connect with each other.”

Shelly works in a Jewish day school helping with Hebrew class, gym and art. She’s enjoying really getting to know the kids, as well as living with her host family, who have made her feel at home.

“To leave everything behind for a year was scary, but it’s exciting that now I have a blank page to write my own new story,” Shelly said. “Even though we’re young and the work we are handling is challenging, it’s so important and worth it.”

Meanwhile, Alma, 18, also from Yokneam, is serving in Atlanta as a ShinShinit, running activities about Israel, teaching Hebrew and Sunday School and more for kids of all ages at multiple places, including at a local Jewish day school and the JCC.

“I knew after I graduated high school that I wanted to be a ShinShinit and teach others about Israel while experiencing a different culture,” said Alma. “But now that I’m here, it’s so much more than I imagined. I feel a deeper connection to and appreciation for my Judaism now. In Israel, it’s very easy to be Jewish and you don’t really have to do anything, but here, if you want to be Jewish, you have to work harder and to choose to be active.”

Coming into the year, Alma had a lot of ideas she was excited about putting into action. But what’s been most special is getting to build relationships with students and families and act as a living bridge to Israel.

“The kids and teens really respond to us and we develop a very close bond,” shared Alma. “As ShinShinim, we become part of the local community while acting as ambassadors, bringing Israel to life.”

Alma with a fellow ShinShinit in Atlanta | Photo provided by Alma
Alma with a fellow ShinShinit in Atlanta | Photo provided by Alma