This month, Connecticut welcomes a new group of Israeli Young Emissaries who arrived in late August and are eager to begin work strengthening the living bridge between Israel and the communities to which they have been assigned.
Now in its 18th year — Chai! — the Young Emissary program is sponsored by the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC), made up of the Jewish Federations of Connecticut, and Western and Central Massachusetts. The teens from Israel’s Afula-Gilboa region have delayed their military service to perform a 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 Ledger asked this year’s Israeli Young Emissaries to introduce themselves.
Currently, I am the chairman of the National Student and Youth Council, the official organization of Israeli teenagers in Israel. In 2013, I was the chairman of Afula’s Student and Youth Council and, in 2014, I was the chairman of the Student and Youth North Council. In addition, I have participated in other volunteering organizations, such as, Unistrem, an organization that exposes teenagers to the business world, as well as a youth movement called “Mashatzim,” in which I was a youth leader. In 2014 and 2015 I was a reporter for a major Israeli teen website called “Frogi.” After one year, I became the editor of the digital section of the website. After I finish high school, I would like to be the spokesman of the IDF.
I love many things in Israel. I like the society in Israel, where there are many different types of people — Jewish, Arabs, Druzes, Bedouin, Muslims, Christians, ultra-Orthodox, gays, immigrants and more. I like that one can travel from the north of Israel and enjoy a nice cool climate and then after four hours of travelling south, feel the heat of the dry desert. There is something very special in Israel that does not exist in other countries: mutual responsibility — whenever there is a difficult situation like war or accidents, people help each other.
I live in Karmiel, where my father has a company that deals with community building. He was the youth director in Karmiel and supervisor for the youth programs in Partnership-Together in Karmiel Misgav Pittsburgh, including the Diller Teen Fellows program. My mother manages the Women’s Health Center in Na’amat Karmiel and is also in charge of the Noam Conservative Youth Movement and Netzer Reform Zionist Youth Movement program in Karmiel. I also have a 14-year-old brother and a dog. One of the things I am studying is Arabic, because I live in the Galilee and our neighbors are Arabs and it’s important for me to know my neighbors’ language.
I guide ninth graders as part of the CIT course and the 11th-graders’ Diller project program. I also lead the bar mitzvah program in the Conservative community in Karmiel.
And I like to dance in the Karmiel folk dance group. I want to be an officer in the IDF, making a significant contribution for the benefit of the soldiers and my country.
As a participant in the Diller program I stayed for 10 days with a Jewish family in Pittsburgh and was impressed with their pluralistic attitude towards Judaism.
I love the sense of family-hood in Israel — the fact that complete strangers are happy to help you even with the smallest thing, as well as the welcoming warmth and mutual responsibility of Israelis.
GREATER NEW HAVEN
I got most of my leadership experience from the Scouts in Afula. I started in Scouts when I was 15 years old and took a leadership course, at the end of which I got my guide certificate. I had a great opportunity to lead a new generation of young people in Israel. I also volunteer for “Give the Animals Lives.”
I would like to serve in the IDF as army spokeswoman. I can’t wait to feel Israeli pride as I wear an Israeli army uniform. I want to contribute to my country in the best way possible and to defend my country.
My family and I traveled to India when I was a child, where my mother’s family is from. For me the most significant family experience was when we visited the place that my grandmother used to live. I love to hear from her about how they kept their religion and all the Jewish customs.
One of the things I love most about Israel is the comradeship between all the people. I also like the differences between the citizens — we all come from different places and each person has special customs and culture. We have a beautiful country and every time I travel with my family I see the amazing views and I’m proud that I live in this country.
I live with my family in Kadima, a small town close to Ra’anana, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv. My mom is the head of the human resources department at the Ra’anana city hall, and my father is a financial advisor. I have a little brother and two pets — a dog and a cat.
I am in the Israeli Scouts for five years. I was a guide for two years, and in my senior year I was in charge of all the special hadracha — kids with special needs, kids who don’t live at home for one reason or another, who live in poverty. I would like to serve in the IDF intelligence corps, because I believe I can contribute the most there.
I took a trip to Poland with my school that gave me a perspective about something I couldn’t comprehend — the numbers, the cruelty, the pain. It was something words could not describe. What we saw was only a glimpse, but the message we carried when we came back is the most important thing: to stop racism, once and for all!
The people of Israel are very warm and welcoming (although sometimes sassy). You will always find friends anywhere and no matter where they are from you’ll probably see them a lot because we are a very small country. I love the land itself — it is beautiful and diverse; from the desert to Mt. Hermon, the views are breathtaking.
I’d like peace, Israel is under constant threat from neighboring countries, and we keep having terrorist attacks on our country. No one likes to live in fear on both sides and I wish that it would stop.
UPPER FAIRFIELD COUNTY
I live in a small neighborhood called Ramat-Chen in Ramat-Gan, near Tel Aviv. My father is an architect. My mother is a psychologist. I have two younger sisters: Michal, 16, and Ayala, 11. We have a dog named Cookie.
I was in the Scouts for eight years. I was a group leader for two years. I loved going to the activities twice a week and camping with my group. I have been dancing since I was three years old — it combines music and movement, so I can express my feelings.
I would like to be a teacher in the IDF, teaching foreign soldiers Hebrew.
Two years ago, I was chosen to represent Ramat Gan in Germany with 10 other students. We were hosted by a German family for two weeks. Then, a few months later, they came to Israel and we hosted them. Last summer I went to Italy through a program sponsored by the Lions organization. The purpose of both programs was to introduce young people to life in other cultures. I would love to get to know Jewish communities all over the world.
I love the warm nature of the Israeli people. I love the vistas of Israel – the desert, the beaches, the mountains. Moreover, I love the multiculturalism of Israel. People came from all over the world to live in Israel. Our society combines different beautiful cultures.
My parents are Yoel and Mira, and I have two older brothers: Omer, 25, who is a student at Tel Aviv University, and Amit, 21, who was recently released from the army, where he was a drone operator. Additionally, we have a dog named Stephen.
Ever since I can remember I have been involved in Hadracha work. I began helping my grandmother in her kindergarten class when I was young. Later, during middle school, I was part of the Mashzim field education program, guiding eighth graders. I was also a Scout guide and, later, a unit leader. In addition, for the past few years I have volunteered with the nonprofit organization Latet, collecting food for the poor during the holidays. Last year, I received a letter from them saying I was the number one volunteer in my city for the Passover operation. Nowadays, I guide one amazing kid with special needs in the youth movement, and I joined a new youth movement called “Knafaim Shell Krembo” in which teens work with kids with special needs.
I would like to serve as a commander in the IDF working in foreign relations.
I love the fact that when Israel is in a time of need we are very united and we help one another; and I love it that when Israelis come across other Israelis abroad they start to talk to each other like they have been best friends for years. Living in Israel feels like a blessing after everything our people have been through over the years. But I would like to see a change in the way the Israeli government treats Holocaust survivors.
I live in Kiryat Tiv’on, a peaceful small town in northern Israel, located near Haifa and the Jezreel Valley. My mother is a lecturer in business management at the University of Haifa and Carmel Academic College. My father is an engineer. I also have a 15-year-old brother.
I was a Zofim scout and I also volunteered in a school in Haifa, helping kids with their homework.
I would like to serve in the IDF as a ‘madan’ — someone who helps teenagers before recruiting to the IDF. Madans meet high school students and help them decide which role they want to play in the army and then help them during the selection exams. I find it very important to help teenagers before recruitment, which can be a very difficult process.
During high school, I was part of a delegation that went to Germany for a youth conference with participants from all around Europe. I was also part of a scouts’ delegation to Poland, in which Israeli and American Jewish scouters learned about the Holocaust. The experience created a bond for me with my Jewish legacy and roots.
I love Israel’s cultural diversity. I find it amazing that different people live together: religious, non-religious, Jews, Muslims and Christians. I also love the unique characteristics of the country: the fact that we are the only Jewish state in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East. And then, I love the Israeli temperament. People help each other; they care about their country.
I would like to change the negative image of Israel abroad. I believe that the media tend to harm the image of Israel.
I live with my family in Rehovot. I have two brothers. Eden is my twin brother and Adi is my younger brother. My father served as an IDF officer for 25 years. He recently retired and established a project management company. My mother runs the company’s back office.
This past year, I joined a youth group called “Noam” which stands for “Noar Masorati,” the equivalent movement in the United States is USY. In the movement, I guide a group of special needs kids ages eight and nine, and I am also active in the movements seminars and training activities.
In sixth grade I joined the city’s acting school called “Bimat Hanoar.” I enjoy acting very much.
I would like to serve as a liaison officer in the IDF.
At the age of ten my family and I moved to Dallas, Texas for two years because of my father’s army career. When living in Dallas, my brothers and I attended a day school and we were also active in the JCC. I keep in touch with my friends from Dallas to this day. This past year, I travelled with my school to Poland. I felt that it was one of my duties as a Jewish and Israeli teenager.
Because Israel deals with many struggles as a country, the Israeli people function as a family. I love the feeling of solidarity between the citizens. I love the sense of cohesion in Israel during the holidays and during events related to Jewish and Israeli history. Israel is a multicultural country. This makes Israel unique and fills me with joy.
I live in Givat Ela, a community located in the Jezreel Valley. My mom is a controller for a high tech company, and my dad is an organizational psychologist. I also have a 27-year-old brother who is a management and economics student at the Open University; and a 25-year-old sister who is a law and accounting student at Tel Aviv University.
I was very active in the youth movement “B’nai Hamoshavim.” Four years ago I joined the Teen Leadership Program in our region. I was also in a three-year computer science program that trains high school students to become cyber experts. I chose to participate in this program because it combines my love for computers with an opportunity to use my knowledge to help my country. I hope to serve in the IDF as a cyber warrior.
Four years ago I went to a Jewish summer camp called Tamarack in Ortonville, Michigan. It was a meaningful experience for me to meet local Jewish kids. Last year, I participated in a teen mission that included kids from the partnership region visiting Israel and we returned to the partnership region for a visit.
I feel a part of the history of Israel. It makes me appreciate the land I live on.
I would like to improve the support the Israeli government provides to Holocaust survivors, both financially and emotionally. In addition, I would like to improve the support the Israeli government provides to Ethiopian immigrants who have a hard time adjusting to the Israeli culture.
My family lives on a moshav called Kfar Yehezkel — a small, friendly place where almost everyone knows everyone. It is an agricultural moshav; when walking around the moshav you will see cows and green fields. My family has a land with olive and almond trees. I have three sisters — a twin sister, a little sister in third grade, and a 19-year-old sister now serving in the IDF.
I spent three years as a madricha (counselor), in the youth movement called B’nai HaMoshavim, guiding kids on my moshav. I also volunteered in LaTet, an organization for people who can’t afford food. Hiking is one of my favorite hobbies. I also like biking and running, and I am a part of ‘combat fitness’ group
I would like to serve in the intelligence unit in the IDF.
I lived in Prague in the Czech Republic from 2010-2013, during which time I learned much about myself, other cultures, and Israel in the eyes of non-Israelis. I also attended a summer camp called Szarvas, a Jewish summer camp in Hungary. And I have travelled to Poland with my school.
I love the landscape of Israel — from the desert to the sea with many valleys and springs. And I love the Israeli people — the sense of brotherhood. It can be felt on holidays, during sad events and also in the everyday life.
I joined Scouts in ninth grade, and became a guide when I was in 10th grade and a rashgad (unit head) in 11th grade. I love to act and sing and I am a member of Afula’s youth choir, called “Tzeirey Afula.”
I hope to be an Infantry instructor in the IDF, to train soldiers on a specific weapon/device that they would eventually implement at missions. I want my time serving the army to be meaningful and I want to know that I did my part contribute to my country.
I love the warmth of the Israeli people. People here will always help you and be kind to you even if they don’t know you. I also Iove that the country is small. Everyone knows everyone. And I love the Sabbath. Not everyone here is religious, and yet the quiet and peace on the streets after a long week, to me it’s one of a kind.
I’m a madrich — guide — in “Shelah,” a youth movement that stands for Field-Nation-Society. I teach students how to tie knots, build structures and work as a team. I was certified as judo instructor by the Wingate Institute, and I’ve been instructing kids from the age of four to 16. Until last year, I trained in the Israeli national Judo team. I also play guitar and keyboards and I like to jam with friends. I play in a rock band.
In the army I wish to be a paramedic or a Krav Maga instructor.
I love the way Israelis feel comfortable with each other and have a special bond; the way you can approach almost anyone in Israel and talk to them. And I also love the Sabbath in Israel — the feeling of freedom and family. I love the way that every Jew gets to choose what the Sabbath is for him or her.
I would like to change the security situation in Israel. I can’t determine what the right way to achieve peace or safety is, but I’m sure we all deserve it. I would also like to improve the treatment of Holocaust survivors. After all they have been through, they deserve to be treated the best way there is, but the situation is that today many of them are still living in poverty.
I live with my family in Holon, which is in the center of Israel. My mother is a school principal in Tel Aviv. My father is a project manager in a software company. My sister Danielle recently finished her army service and she is studying medicine at a university in Jerusalem.
I have been in the Scouts movement since fourth grade and it has had a big influence on my life. I was a guide and I was in charge of special events for my tribe. I also like to play guitar, read books, and work out. My dream is to be a pilot in the IDF. I would enjoy the opportunity to contribute to Israel.
Recently, I had a very powerful experience when I travelled to Poland with my school. During the visit, I experienced the horror of the Holocaust from a different point of view from what I learned in the past. It felt real and more powerful. I am proud to be a Jew — part of a nation that rose up from the ashes to what we are today.
The people of Israel have a warm heart, kindness, hospitality, courage and a supportive attitude. Only a good and stable society can face the difficulties and challenges that the society in Israel faces each day.
I would like to see the Dead Sea restored. I believe that we can consume less water we will save the Kinneret — the Jordan River.
I live with my family on Talmey Elazar, a moshav (settlement) next to Hadera, 40 minutes from Tel Aviv. My grandparents built the moshav and I was taught to love the land I live on. My father is a farmer. We have a family business growing citrus and avocado trees. My mother is a banker who was 15 years old when she made aliyah from Iran. I have two little brothers: Yonatan, 14, and Yuval, 10. We also have a dog named Luke.
I was part of the moshav youth movement “Hichud Hachaklai” (Agricultural Union). I was a guide and a team leader. I was also part of a volunteer movement called “Bnot Mitzvah.” I love to sing and I used to be part of the choir at school.
I would like to serve in the IDF as a spokesperson. I would be more than happy to represent Israel to the world.
Last summer I spent two weeks in New York, living with the Jewish community. I met warm, interesting people and I liked the fact that despite the physical distance I identify with them. Last Sukkot, I visited Poland with my school. Despite all the terrible things we saw, the feeling was optimistic. I realized how amazing that is despite all the horrors our nation has evolved.
I love Israel’s diversity. Israel is like a Shabbat table, with many different foods spread out across one map. Diversity forced Israel to combine everything together. And yet, despite the diversity, Israel has managed to retain its unique identity. I also love Israel’s ability to be a democratic state in the Middle East — and do it well.