In August of this year, Greater Atlanta welcomed eight Israeli emissaries to our community thanks to the Schoenbaum Shinshinim program. Shinshinim are 18-year old high school graduates from all over Israel who complete a year of service in Jewish Atlanta, fostering connection to Israel for community members of all ages.
Here is a reflection from one of our Shinshinim, Matan, age 18:
Fri night [October 6, 2023] at 11:30 pm began the worst night of my life. I was awoken by messages of alarms being sounded in Israel. As I turned to my phone, I began to see videos of terrorists inside Israel. I was living my worst nightmare, worried about my family, my country, my friends.
My immediate feeling was that I wanted to go home. I wanted to join my countrymen and women on the frontlines and defend Israel. But as the hours and days passed, I began to recognize the important job I was doing here in Atlanta. As a Shinshin, I am here to represent Israel. I can combat fake news. I can answer questions. I can share my love of Israel with the children in my school and so many others. And each and every day since the war broke out, I have gotten to do that.
At the Solidarity Gathering the other night, I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support for Israel. To know that I am living in a community where so many people care so deeply, means a lot to me.
Yesterday I learned that I lost a dear friend. My heart is heavy. I am devastated over the loss. And though a part of me wishes I was in Israel hugging my family and standing beside the brave men and women fighting for our country, I know that I have an important job to do right here in Atlanta and I am honored to do it.