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In a time of global disruption and national anxiety, I want to share some very happy news. After extensive planning for their safety and health, we will welcome a new cohort of six Israeli Shinshinim to Atlanta right after the high holidays.

Atlanta is one of 19 North American communities continuing to host young Israelis spending a gap year engaging with Diaspora Jewry. Atlanta’s decision to host them embodies our commitment to kesher, human bridge building, and our commitment to Global Jewish Peoplehood.

The Shinshinim also exemplify one of Federation’s core values – fearlessness! Not that we are being casual about their safety.  To protect them and the people they interact with here, we are following extensive health and legal guidelines already established by the Jewish Agency (JAFI). And even though it’s not required in Georgia, the Shinshinim will quarantine together for 14 days upon arrival in Atlanta.

Now that our Jewish day schools, JKG, and the MJCCA are open, there’s plenty for them to do. Before they even get here, the Shinshinim will connect with our community. They have an orientation this week in our Partnership region of Yokneam and Megiddo and will continue to reach out to their Atlanta host families and host organizations. Their work will be on a hybrid model, combining in-person and virtual interactions with a continual emphasis on safety.

Two of the Shinshinim are observant Jews, including a young woman whose mother, Omer Yankilevitch, was recently named the first female orthodox Minister of Diaspora in Israel.

I am so grateful to the Schoenbaum family for supporting the Shinshinim program here in Atlanta, as a way to express their values.  The cohort will be well supported by Rich Walter, Federation’s VP of Programs and Grantmaking; Keren Rosenberg, Global Jewish Peoplehood Director; and Andrea Levy, a former host “Mom” who supervised last year’s group, will be the Shinshinim Coordinator. Having them back in Atlanta is a win-win for all of us!

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