JEWISHcolorado Shinshinim Host Family FAQ

How to become a host family for Colorado Shinshinim

We are thrilled that you are interested in hosting a Shinshin! This valuable role helps acclimate our young Israeli emissaries to their new surroundings, and helps build the ever-important bridge between Israel and the rest of the world. Check out our FAQs on what goes in to hosting one of our Shinshinim, and don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.

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Don’t see your question? No worries. Reach out to us! We’re happy to help.

Michelle Ruby, MARE, RJE
Director of Israel Teen Emissaries and Education

Why be a host family?

Hosting one of our Colorado Shinshinim in your home provides an opportunity to form meaningful and enriching relationships with the Shinshin and their family in Israel. By introducing them to our lives as Jews in Colorado, your family will gain an insider perspectives and enhanced knowledge of life in Israel today.

What does it take to be a host family?

JEWISHcolorado is looking for a warm, loving, non-smoking Jewish home eager to welcome a teenager into their family and to include them in meals, celebrations, everyday activities, and special occasions. The home should offer a dedicated bedroom—a guest room or other unoccupied space is ideal. We prefer that you do not displace a member of the family to make room for a Shinshin. Additional private space, such as a bathroom or living area, is desirable but not mandatory.

What are the benefits of becoming a host family?

Many of our past host families have shared that hosting a ShinShin was the highlight for the family and for their relationship with Israel. They not only feel they have gained a new family member, but also feel they have gained a whole new understanding of what it’s like to be an Israeli. Host families play a vital role in the success of the Shinshinim program. Host parents and siblings provide a great deal of support to Shinshinim and help them transition to living and working in our community.

How long is the hosting period?

Our hosting timeframes are approximately three months. The Shinshin return to Israel mid-February for a two week visit at home. We do have families available to host short term stays if necessary (e.g., if your family has booked a vacation) Shinshinim are allowed to travel (at their own expense or that of the host family) with their host families only if they have been given permission from their supervisor.

Do I need to provide my Shinshin with rides/transportation?

No. The Shinshinim will have cars and car insurance paid for by the JEWISHcolorado. JEWISHcolorado will also arrange for the Shinshinim to receive driving lessons to familiarize them with Colorado laws and driving conditions. Whenever possible, rides are always appreciated, particularly during the winter months, but not expected.

Will my Shinshin have health insurance? What happens if they need medical attention?

The Shinshinim will have health insurance coverage through David Shield, arranged by the Jewish Agency for Israel. If your Shinshin needs a doctor or dentist, the Supervisor will take care of setting them up at a doctor’s office for general care and will accompany them to appointments if needed. Should there be an urgent situation, we would ask that you take them to the closest Urgent care facility or the Emergency Room and call the Supervisor ASAP.

How often will Shinshinim be home for dinner?

While the Shinshinim do their best to be home as often as possible, they do have very busy schedules and as such, will not be able to join you for dinner every evening. We recommend you sit down with your Shinshin on a weekly basis to discuss his/her calendar. We try to have our Shinshinim spend at least one Friday night dinner at home, but there will be times when they may have to accept other invitations from members of the community or attend Hillel Shabbat events.

What should I do if my Shinshin is not home for dinner?

Please ensure that there is food for him/her to eat and that he/she is comfortable preparing the food him/herself.

Who will do their laundry?

It is up to the host family who does the laundry. Please discuss with your Shinshin and ensure that they know how to do laundry and work the machines in your home. If a housekeeper is doing laundry for other members of the family, it would be recommended that the Shinshin’s laundry is done for him/her as well. We encourage families to treat the ShinShinim as another member of their family.

Do the Shinshinim have a curfew?

The Shinshinim do have a curfew. Generally, they need to be home by 11pm. Furthermore, they are told that they must be respectful of the house rules and may need occasional reminders to be considerate of their families’ schedules. Please note that there are evenings when the Shinshinim will be working late at their institutions or with their partners, but they will let you know if that is the case.

Are Shinshinim allowed to babysit?

The Shinshinim are here to volunteer, and their visas do not allow them to work for pay. They are not allowed to babysit or tutor for pay. Beyond that, the Shinshinim will have very busy schedules volunteering in our community, and any available free time that they have should be time for them to relax and recharge.

Who makes lunch for the Shinshinim?

It is up to the host family to discuss with the Shinshinim who will be making lunches. If your kids make their own lunches, feel free to let the Shinshin make their own lunch, provided you are supplying them with food. Make sure they feel comfortable making it. Again, treat the Shinshinim the same as your own children. If a parent or a housekeeper makes lunches for your children, have them do the same for the ShinShin.

What is the best way to stay in touch with my Shinshin while they are here?

Each ShinShin will receive a SIM Card, phone plan and iPhone. So please ensure that you have that phone number. It is a good idea to give your Shinshin a list of phone numbers for everyone in your home, so they can get in touch with anyone at any time.

What happens if/when our family goes on vacation?

It is entirely up to each host family to decide if they wish to take their Shinshin along, and only if it has been approved by all of their site supervisors and by the Director of Israel Teen Emissaries. The Shinshin is not permitted to stay alone in your home, therefore we will need to make arrangements in advance if you are going on vacation without them.

Should I know where my Shinshin is at all times?

While you do not need to constantly keep tabs on them, host families should always know where their Shinshin is and when they are expected home just as you would for your own teens. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open.

Who provides Shinshinim with toiletries?

The Shinshinim receive a monthly stipend from JEWISHcolorado. It is recommended that the host family provide basic toiletries (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper), and we encourage you to discuss this with your Shinshin when they arrive.

Does my Shinshin need a key to my house?

As the Shinshin is part of your family, they will need a key to your house (or a code to have access) and the code to the alarm.

What is required to be a host family?

All you need is a dedicated bedroom in your home for the Shinshinim, with a bathroom close by, and an extra chair at your table. You DO NOT have to be affiliated with a Jewish institution and you do not have to have teens in your home to host a Shinshin.

What are the COVID-19 protocols?

Our Shinshinim will arrive in Colorado fully vaccinated with full health coverage that includes Covid care. JEWISHcolorado strictly follows health regulations and protocols in assigning its Shinshinim to their tasks and in keeping their safety as well as of their host families, students and institution partners.