We are thrilled to be hosting two young Israeli women known as Shinshinim (emissaries) this coming year, as part of our Federation’s commitment to Israel Engagement Opportunities. The Shinshin Service Year Abroad Program reflects the partnership between The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (JFSPBC), and is also supported by the Judi & Allan Schuman Center for Israel Engagement and the Jacobson Jewish Community Foundation.

Ella Ben Shahar and Rotem Madar are 18-year-olds who deferred their army service for one year to volunteer abroad after high school graduation. They will live with host families and create exciting learning opportunities about Israel for the local community. Through programs and discussions, they will bring the culture of Israel alive for all ages — from preschoolers to seniors — while learning about Jewish-American life in our community.

Ella and Rotem join seven other Shinshinim who have arrived in Palm Beach, Broward, and Greater Miami, forming a “hub” of nine young Israeli emissaries in South Florida. As a native of Zichron Ya’akov, Ella will also bring a personal touch to our Partnership2Gether (P2G) relationship, by allowing us to learn more about Zichron from one of its residents.

Ella and Rotem will share their Israeli customs and language with JFSPBC students and residents. Together, they will share personal experiences about the various facets of Israel with the students of our many pre-schools, day schools, and religious schools, as well as synagogues, youth groups, the JCC, and other agencies. In exchange, South Palm Beach County can share its diversity with our Shinshinim, while showcasing Jewish life here in South Florida.

Ella and Rotem arrived on August 15, 2022, with great enthusiasm. They took a short break from their busy orientation to share some thoughts with us:

Where do you live in Israel?
Ella: I live in a small 150-year-old town called Zichron Ya’akov, which happens to be the sister community to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
Rotem: I currently live in Even Yehudah, a little colony in the center of Israel. I’ve been here since about age nine.

What are you most excited to experience in South Florida?
Ella: I look forward to taking nature walks and seeing Florida plants, flowers, and marine life.
Rotem: My aunt was an emissary with the Palm Beach County Federation a few years ago in her 20s. I’m excited to visit the same places and people she did.

Are you curious about any aspects of Jewish-American life?
Ella:  The diversity of Judaism and the various ways of observance intrigue me.
Rotem: I’m very interested in the differences in Judaism, such as the celebration of holidays.

Watch for social media updates as our two Shinshinim settle into their volunteer duties. Let’s welcome Ella and Rotem with open arms!

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