A few weeks ago, Connecticut said “L’hitraot” to last year’s Young Emissaries who completed their year of service in the community and returned to Israel. Now, Connecticut is saying “Shalom” once again, this time to welcome this year’s Young Emissaries who just arrived and are eager to pick up where their predecessors left of; that is, to strengthen the living bridge between Israel and the communities to which they have been assigned.
Now in its 15th 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 Massachusetts. These Israeli teenagers 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. 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:
I live in Kibbutz Hasolelim, which is a small kibbutz in the northern part of Israel. My father’s name is Ofer; he just retired from the Israeli Air Force after a service of 27 years. My mother’s name is Rachel; she’s a teacher in an elementary school.
I’ve been playing volleyball since fifth grade and I LOVE it! When I was in the eighth grade, in the summer of 2008, I was an Israeli camper at Camp Tamarack in Michigan. This was my first experience in a Jewish community in the States and I fell in love with it. I stayed with a host family for a weekend and we had so much fun.
When I got back to Israel, I started taking part in a teen leadership program. I developed my leadership skills and also got to meet new friends. In the summer of 2011, I came back to Tamarack as a counselor. This experience at camp was very different than being a camper. It was an incredible opportunity for me to see my American friends again and get a different look at camp.
Last October I got accepted into one of the most prestigious courses in the army, the Naval Officer course. It’s one of the longest and hardest courses in the IDF. However, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. But before I join the army, I will be in your community to be a Young Emissary!
I’m very passionate about Israel and can’t wait to share my love for my country with you. I know it’s going to be an AMAZING year! I’m grateful to have this opportunity and I hope to learn from you as well about Jewish life overseas and how unique it is.
My name, May, is pronounced “My” — which is how the month of May [which I was born in] is pronounced in Hebrew. I am 18 years old, and I live in Afula, the capital of the Jezreel Valley. My father’s name is Emi and my mother’s name is Sarah. I have three siblings. My older brother, Eyal, is 36 years old, my older sister, Oshrat, is 35, and my brother, Yoni, is 33 years old. I am the little sister in my family, and since my siblings are much bigger than me, I have six nephews and nieces. The seventh is on the way.
Ever since I can recall I’ve been practicing music. I play the violin and the flute, but mostly I love to sing. I sing both modern music and opera and I even got to perform in your community twice with the Afula Youth Singing Group. When I was in your community, I discovered how much I loved staying with a host family and I learned about the Young Emissary program. Besides music, I love to bake cakes and hang out on the beach.
I’m super excited to finally start this life-changing experience and have you see the part of Israel I’m bringing with me! I am positive the year to come will be even more amazing than I wish it would be!! I’ll see you soon!
WESTPORT WESTON WILTON NORWALK
I’m 18 and I live in Gan Ner, a small community near Afula, on the Gilboa Mountain in the north of Israel. I’m the older child in the family; my young sister, Shirel, is 14. In my family we have a close and warm relationship. My main hobbies are theater (one of my majors in high school) and dancing. I have danced as long as I can remember, from the age of 4. I am in my third year as a volunteer as a guide and counselor in the B’nei HaMoshavim youth movement. My latest achievement in this program was a process that began two years ago when kids who participated in the group didn’t want to come to the group at all. I invested a lot of effort in preparing activities and, not only did they begin to participate, but this year I prepared 25 kids to become counselors next year! This number is an absolute record in our community for the past 10 years.
I decided to become an emissary in the United States because it seems to me a great challenge and an opportunity to be able to contribute in a different place and in such a unique program. I want to show my future U.S. community in Westport, Weston, Wilton, and Norwalk my perspective on life in Israel — the perspective of a young, social and involved girl who experiences Israel first-hand. I’m a big patriot of my great country and I’d like other people to love Israel just a little bit more than they do today.
I was born in New Jersey but my parents moved back to Israel when I was a year-and-a-half old. I live in a small town in the center of Israel called Shoham. I have a younger brother named Gal who had his bar mitzvah this summer. My mother is a social worker and she works in a children’s hospital. My father has his own company involved in business development. As a family we like
to travel around the country and abroad. In the summertime you can usually find us at the beach.
I really like all kinds of sports. I played basketball for eight years on a team and last year I participated in a preparation group for the army. I also participated in a few running competitions with my school’s running team. I have played music since I was very young. I learned to play the piano for four years and then switched to guitar. Today I play them both and can play almost any song. I also play in school and town ceremonies. During our year together I would love to play and teach you any Hebrew (or English) song. Over the last few years I have been in several exchange programs with high school students from Germany and the U.S. I also worked as a counselor at a day camp at the Westchester JCC last summer. I enjoyed working with the kids to give them the flavor of Israel.
I truly believe that the personal relationship between youth around the world is a powerful and meaningful experience for both sides. I am proud and excited to be a part of the community and bring “some Israel” to you.
EASTERN FAIRFIELD COUNTY
I’m 17 years old and I live in Rishon-Le-Zion, a big city close to Tel-Aviv. I have three siblings: my sister Shachar, 22, serves in the army, my brother Roi is 12, and my youngest brother Itai is 7. My mom is Dafi ,and my dad is Shlomi.
I have been in the Israeli Scouts for six years and I have guided for almost three years. Last summer I took part in an Israeli Scouts Delegation that brought me to Connecticut for three months to be the Israel specialist at Camp Shalom in Windsor. I like to dance and travel. I was on a trip for eight days that began in the north of Israel at the Hermon Mountain and ended in the south of Israel in Eilat. During the trip we visited different places in the country – Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea, Ramat HaGolan [Golan Heights], and even water parks! I have also visited many countries around the world: England, Ireland, France and the United States. Last year, I went with my school to Poland where we visited concentration camps.
I just graduated from Gimnasia Realit High School. My majors were math, English, chemistry, and Arabic.
I am 17 years old and I live in a moshav, a small agricultural community, in the north of Israel. I have two siblings: an older sister named Reut and a younger brother named Boaz. My dad is Yoni and my mom is Tal.
I like singing, playing guitar and bass guitar, running, cooking and reading. I also like dogs; I volunteered in a dog shelter for five years. I am a guide in the B’nei HaMoshavim youth movement. This is my fourth year as a guide and this year I guided fourth-graders. I really like traveling in Israel and also all over the world. I’ve already been to France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and the U.S. This summer I’m going to travel to Crete in Greece with my friends. I also took part in a delegation of my school to Poland. We visited concentration camps and sites that were once a main part of the Jewish community in Poland and were destroyed.
I just graduated from high school! My majors were computer science, chemistry, agriculture, English, and math. I also had a great graduation party!
Now that this chapter of my life is over, I am excited to open a new one with you.
I’m 18 years old and I live with my parents, Yoel and Smadar, and with my younger sister, Yam, in Shimshit, a community village located in the Yizrael Valley, in the north of Israel.
I studied in the HaEmek HaMa’aravi (Western Valley) High School located in Kibbutz Yif’at and my major subjects were physics and biology. I played basketball for the regional team until grade 10 and also participated in my school’s orienteering team. I enjoy playing sports with my friends, such as football, basketball, and tennis. In addition, I am very keen on hiking.
I’m looking forward to spending time with all of you and talking with you about Israeli sports, foods, and music.
I’m 17 years old and I live with my parents, Itsik and Maidy, and with my two older sisters, Yahalom and Or, in Bruchin, a community village located in Samaria, in the center of Israel.
I study in Ariel (the capital of Samaria) High School and my major subject is Arabic. I played volleyball for the regional team until grade 9. In addition, I enjoy rock climbing and securing climbing walls.
I can’t wait to meet you all, and am so excited to bring a piece of Israel with me to the community.
GREATER NEW HAVEN
Amit Amar and Nir Lustig
Both Amit Amar and Nir Lustig have vast experience in leadership through their school, youth movement, and other programs.
Amit is very active in the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) youth movement. She was a counselor for different age groups, including children with special needs. Amit was a participant in the Scouts’ Friendship Caravan and traveled with them for three months along the West Coast of the U.S. She loves theater and to sing and hike.
Nir was a counselor in a youth movement too. He was inspired by his brother who was an emissary nine years ago and waited patiently to become one as well. He enjoys working with children, sports, carpentry, and music.
I was born on March 3, 1995 in Afula. My parents are Noga and Yossi.
I am the youngest of three sisters, and I have one lovely niece called Halel.
I graduated from high school this spring, where I majored biology and psychology. I was volunteering in MDA [Magen David Adom] and was a part of Afula’s Municipal Youth Council. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, riding horses, and especially cooking.
I am very motivated and excited to come to your lovely community with my amazing partner, Shaked. Thank you all for this amazing opportunity.
I was born on February 9, 1995 in Haifa.
My parents are Pnina and Amnon.
I have an older brother, Bar, who is 22, and a younger brother, Tomer, who is 13 and recently celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
I graduated from high school this past spring, where I majored in physics, chemistry and translation. I was volunteering in MDA, and played an active role in many school activities. In my free time, I like to draw, travel, play volleyball, dance and sing (mostly in the shower). My passion is theater; I like to mimic and act.
I am very excited to come to your community with Aviya and I will do my best to make this year unforgettable for the community and for us.
I’m 18 years old and I live in Shimshit, a lovely community village in Emek Yizrael (Yizrael Valley in the lower Galilee). I have one sibling, my older brother Tomer, 21, who is currently in the IDF. My mother’s name is Maya and my father’s name is Baruch. I’m very close to my family, we have a really strong connection, and they are as excited as I am about this year. My father’s family is religious, so we celebrate all the holidays the traditional way. The Jewish tradition has a warm place in my heart; therefore, I’m thrilled to get to know a different way of practicing Judaism, as well as a new culture.
To me, the special and most beautiful thing about Judaism is that being a Jew means not only being a part of the Jewish religion, but also a part of the Jewish people. That is why I see a connection between Jews all over the world; a connection that must be nurtured, and that is what this year is all about.
I am 18 and I live in Timrat — a small community village about 20 minutes from Afula. There are five people in my family. I have two siblings: Ori, my little brother, is 7½ years old, and Shahar, my older sister, is 22. Rafi, my father, is 52 and is president of a company named Tzinoron Hamizrach Htichon — in English, “The Middle East Pipes.” Sari, my mother, is 49 and is a school counselor at the Nir HaEmek High School near Afula. I decided to participate in this Young Emissary year because I felt that I wanted to do something for my country and for the Jewish people in general. Although I’m going to do three years of military service (right after this year), I felt that I need to do something else for the Israeli and the Jewish nation that I really love and care about!
I live in Timrat, which is a community settlement in the Jezraely Vally. I have one brother, Yonatan, 22, who just finished his service in the IDF, and two sisters, Noam, 30, who finished her second degree in business management and Shy, 27, who studies visual arts at Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. My father is a former BG in the IDF and my mother is a psychotherapist.
I love basketball, hiking, and sports in general. I love playing guitar and singing and I love spending time with my friends. I was a counselor in B’nei Hamoshavim youth movement for three years.
My greatest passion is Israel, I love the views and the people; that is the main reason I came here — to tell you about my Israel, my love.
I’m 17 years old and I graduated sports class in Gymnasia Realit high school.
Ever since I was born, I have lived with my family in Rishon L’Zion city, a big city near Tel-Aviv.
I have been dancing ballet and modern dance for moreover than seven years and, recently, I started salsa dancing and joined the cheerleading team of Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem in the Israeli basketball league. I also like hiking, camping and traveling around Israel with my family.
I took part in few different youth programs and movements such as Young Diplomats, Young Ambassadors and Young Leaders; and, as a graduate of those programs, I guided some of their new classes and, during the past year, I took part in two different German-Israeli youth exchange delegations, as well as an American–Israeli youth exchange delegation. My social activities also include volunteering at community centers.
I have heard so many good things about the Jewish community in Western Mass and I’m grateful for the opportunity to volunteer and spend a year of my life there.