A few weeks ago, Connecticut said “L’hitraot” to last year’s group of Young Emissaries who completed their year of service in communities all across the state and returned to Israel. Now, Connecticut’s Jewish communities are saying “Shalom” once again, this time to welcome the new crop of 18-year old Young Emissaries who just arrived and are eager to pick up where their predecessors left off: That is, to strengthen the living bridge between Israel and the communities to which they have been assigned.
Now in its 14th year, the Young Emissary program is sponsored by SNEC, the Southern New England Consortium, which is made up of 11 Jewish Federations in Connecticut and central Massachusetts. As in the past, these 16 Israeli teenagers, all from the Afula-Gilboa region of Israel, have delayed their Israeli military service to perform an academic year of outreach in SNEC communities, while living with local host families.
The Young Emissary program is a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership 2000, which connects 400 communities worldwide with regions in Israel. Pioneered in Westport and emulated throughout North America, the program is the only Jewish Agency “shlichut” (outreach/public information) program whose members are pre-army age.
Here, the Israeli Young Emissaries introduce themselves:
My name is Noam Zaafran. I come from a small village in the north of Israel called Ram-On and I love hiking and traveling. I have a little brother, Shay, who is going to be in sixth grade, and an older sister, Almog, who is a soldier in the IDF. I am very excited to get to know the community and to meet all of you!
My name is Ron Gabayan. I live in a small village called Shimshit which is in the north of Israel. In my free time I like to play basketball, to broadcast on the local radio, to play the drums and take part in the youth movement called “Beni Hamoshavim.” I am really excited about next year and I would like to meet you all as soon as possible.
My name is Ido Goldstein. I live in Kiryat Tivon, a small town close to Haifa. I was in the Israel Scouts movement for five years, where I gained extensive experience in leading different age groups. I played professional basketball for seven years and professional volleyball for three years. I really like any kind of sport. I am so excited to get to Hartford and get to know everyone. I hope to meet you all very soon!
My name is Yuval Malchi. I live in Shimshit, which is in Israeli Valley, and I love the arts and to travel in Israel. I can’t wait to get to know everyone!
GREATER NEW HAVEN
My name is Assaf Ben-Kish. I come from a small community in the north of Israel called Givat Ela. I have three younger sisters, and I like to play soccer and to travel.
I am very excited to get to meet and connect with all of you and I hope that we will have an amazing year together!
My name is Yuval Barkan. I am 18 years old and I just finished high school in Nahalal, which is located in Israeli Valley. I majored physics and computer programming. I have two sibilings: a sister, Maya, 15, and a brother, Ido, 14. I love to play tennis and scuba diving. In addition, I was counselor in Bnei Hamoshavim and the Tzofim, which is a youth movement, for the last three years. I can’t wait to get to know the community. My objective is to contribute a year for my country and for the Jewish people. Looking forward to meeting you.
My name is Ziv Zamir. I am coming from a city called Migdal Ha’emeq in the north of Israel where I live with my parents and two siblings, Shir and Raz. I love photography as a hobby. I’m very excited and looking forward to meeting all of you.
My name is Rivi Behar. I’m 18 years old and I’m from Katzir, which is a small community village at the Hadera-Iron region. I have two brothers, one is older than me and one is younger than me. The older one is 20 years old and he’s in the army right now, and the younger one is 14 years old. Both of my parents work in the building industry. I love acting, but photography is my passion. I carry my camera almost everywhere. I love hanging out with friends and family and traveling around Israel. I’m really excited to be a young emissary and to start this amazing year. I wanted to be a young emissary because I was involved in two youth delegations to the U.S. and I got a tiny taste of the American Jewish community and I loved every moment. I want to contribute to my country in a different way. I want to get to know the Jewish life outside of Israel. I think that contributing to the Jewish people in the U.S.A. is as important as contributing in Israel. I can’t wait to meet all of you!
EASTERN FAIRFIELD COUNTY
My name is Amit Hacoon, and I am 18 years old. I live in Afula, a city located in the center of Izraeli valley In Israel — it’s also the twin city of Connecticut. There are six people in my family: I have an older brother, Idon (who was married recently in Israel), an older sister, Ortal, a younger sister, Lidor, who just turned 12, and a lovely dog named Julia Roberts who is a Jack Russell Terrier, and two amazing parents, Pnina and Alon.
My main hobby is technology. I love everything from editing short films on YouTube to tinkering with gadgets. I am a BIG “Apple” fan. I specialize in online marketing, and I worked for three years at the biggest company that advertises for teenagers, and collaborated with Google Israel’s major projects.
I was trained in the youth movement of “Working and Studying Youth,” and studied theater and biology in school.
I am looking forward to learning about Jewish life in America and the difference between the various sects of Judaism in Connecticut and the U.S.A. I cannot wait to meet you all and share Israel with you in my own personal and unique way.
My name is Ayelet Peled and I am 18 years old. I come from a small town called Kiryat Tivon, between Afula and Haifa, where I live with my family. I have two older sisters, Osnat, 31, and Tamar, 28, and the coolest parents; Nava and David. I have spent a lot of my time in the past six years being in the Israeli Scouts. When I am not doing my scouting, I love to work in the theater and to teach drama to children. As a hobby, I collect miniatures and listen to music, no matter what I am doing. I have heard so many wonderful things about the Eastern Fairfield County community and I am looking forward to meeting all of you and sharing a great year. I want to learn about Jewish life outside of Israel. I can’t wait to meet you and share the upcoming year!
WESTPORT WESTON WILTON NORWALK
My name is Morit. My family and I live in Givat Ela, a small village in the northern part of Israel, 40 miles west of Haifa. My family likes doing different activities together, like theater, traveling, or simply going to the beach. In my free time I like to hang out with my friends, go to movies, travel, hike, play tennis, and during summertime, I participated in a number of 10k running events. I was one of the counselors in the youth movement at our village. I guided 5th-graders through weekly activities and periodic field trips. Last summer my friend and I were in charge of a day-camp program for kids ages 6 to 10 in our neighborhood. I enjoyed it a lot, and received very positive feedback from the kids and their parents.
I lived for four years as a child in the United States, and I hope I have the right background to help develop and improve the connection between the Jewish communities in the U.S and Israel. Looking forward to meeting you all soon!
My name is Rotem Margi. I was born in Kfar Saba and grew up at Kibbutz Ashdot. Three years ago we moved to Moshav Rammat Zvi at the northern part of Israel, next to the Gilboa mountain. I have three brothers and two sisters (I am the fourth child.) My brothers Alon, 24, Raz, 22 an older sister named Ela, 20, a younger brother, Tomer, 13 and a sister Nofar, 9. My mother Zvia, works as a nurse at Afula hospital. My father, Efi, is a gym teacher at my old primary school. We have a dog named Mazal and two cats (Mizi and Zogi). I love animals and traveling, going out with my friends, reading, watching movies, and sometimes cooking and baking, music, and singing! I was a youth guide for three years on my moshav. I guided 7th-, 9th-, 4th-, and 5th-graders from my moshav. I used to guide camps and direct ceremonies for the holidays in the moshav.
I work as a babysitter and in my moshav’s after-school
I hope I will be able to show you a new Israel and that we will enjoy every moment!
EASTERN CT/NEW LONDON
My name is Hadar Sivan. My father, Shlomo, is an officer in the submarines. He has served in the IDF for 25 years. My mother, Shlomit, was also in the IDF, but now she is a computer systems analyst. I have two little sisters, Vered, 13 1/2, an eighth grader, and Daria, 8, a second grader.I just turned 18. I chose to study computers at school. I play the flute in the Kiryat Tivon orchestra. I love to travel with my family, enjoy with my sisters, and spend time with friends. One of the things I love best is amusement parks: I love roller coasters, when I was in England for my bat mitzvah trip I went on the scariest roller coaster in the world! I am so happy about coming to New London. I want to explain things from my perspective, as well as learn about your community life. Looking forward to meeting you and having an awesome year together!
My name is Paz Assor and I was born in Afula. I have two big brothers, Ziv and Or. They are both officers in the army. My mother’s name is Shula and my father’s name is Asher.
My brothers and me love to travel together, play music, and spend a good time when they come home from the army for the weekend. I have played the trumpet for six years and I very much love it. I play in orchestra, big band and solo. I have also been in the Israeli scouts for seven years – three of them as a leader – and I go on many trips and to many camps. I have friends from the scouts all over the country. My favorite music is Israeli rock, but I listen also to jazz. Looking forward to beginning this wonderful year!
My name is Ayelet Ofir. I live on a kibbutz in the north of Israel called Ein Dor. I have a brother and sister, whom I love very much. I love the theater and I used to play volleyball. I really want to know the community and I look forward to meeting all of you.
My name is Itamer Wilf. I am 18 years old, and live on Moshav Bet Lehem Hagelilit, which is located in Northern Israel. My favorite subject in school is physics, and my hobbies include scuba diving and playing soccer and basketball with friends. On my moshav, I worked in the greenhouse and as an agricultural tour guide in the cow shed. I have been actively involved in the B’nai Hamoshavim youth group as both a participant and a counselor for both the 4th-5th grade and 8th grade groups. I very much enjoy working with younger kids and leading fun and enriching activities, which I can’t wait to do in the Greenwich community. I have been to the United States before as part of a summer camp in Michigan through the Jewish Agency. I feel very strongly about contributing to the Jewish people, both in Israel and abroad. When I leave Greenwich and return to Israel, I will begin a nine-year service in the IDF, as part of a special unit. I can’t wait to meet people in the Greenwich community!