Welcome JEWISHcolorado’s 2023-2024 Shinshinim
If you have attended a JEWISHcolorado event in the past year, you may very likely have encountered one of JEWISHcolorado’s Shinshinim, four young Israelis who spent the past year sharing their lives, knowledge, and culture with Coloradans.
In December, students who attended a meeting of the new Jewish Student Connection Club at Northfield High School learned about political developments in Israel—from the Shinshinim.
In April, as JEWISHcolorado convened the community for Yom HaZikaron, a solemn crowd listened to stories about those who are defending Israel—told by the Shinshinim.
In May, a crowd of 1,500 people who gathered at the “Celebrate Israel @ 75” event waited to begin their march to support Israel until the final countdown—led by the Shinshinim.
Shinshinim is a Hebrew acronym for Shnat Sherut or “year of service.” For a full year, these young people, all recent high school graduates who delayed mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces, serve diaspora communities around the world. They spend a year immersed in the local Jewish community, educating youth about Israeli society and culture, current affairs, and Jewish traditions.
“By connecting Colorado with communities in Israel, the Shinshinim enrich our lives every day,” says JEWISHcolorado President and CEO Renée Rockford. “The number of Shinshinim serving around the world has quadrupled in the past decade, and that is powerful testimony to the impact of these cultural ambassadors who become like family wherever they go.”
This summer, JEWISHcolorado said farewell to its ninth cohort of Shinshim: Adaya Koren, May Sabri, Omer Dian, and Ram Shraiber.
In August, JEWISHcolorado welcomes its tenth group of Shinshinim. They bring with them new interests and passions and above all, a willingness to create a bridge to Israel.
Welcome to the new Shinshinim
Shinshinim are chosen from more than a thousand candidates after a lengthy and thorough selection process. The emissary program attracts participants from all backgrounds and sectors of Israeli society. Meet the 2023-2024 JEWISHcolorado Shinshinim:
Liron Amar comes to Denver from Midreshet Ben-Gurion, a small settlement and educational center in the Negev. He has two older sisters and one younger sister. He attended a high school that focuses on environmental education, where he majored in environmental studies, physics, and biology. Liron’s hobbies include swimming (he has swum competitively), hiking, traveling, and hanging out with his friends.
Afek Barda lives in Kiryat Malachi (“City of Angels”), a small city in the Southern District of Israel which was named in honor of supporters from the Jewish community in Los Angeles. He is the youngest of three brothers. His majors in school are physics and electrical engineering. Afek runs his scouting tribe “Shalhevet” and says it is “basically my entire life.” His hobbies include playing computer games and going to the beach with his friends.
Talia Shalom, 18, lives in the small community of Be’er Milka which is located in the central Negev Desert within the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council. Her parents were some of the original settlers in 2006. She has four brothers, and the family runs a business producing wine and olive oil. Talia’s hobbies include sports (especially weightlifting), reading (historical fiction is a favorite), crocheting, and hanging out with her friends.
Roni Zinger, 18, lives in Ganei Tikva, an area near Tel Aviv known for its high standard of living and quality education. Roni attended the town’s one high school, where she majored in diplomacy and social sciences. She is from a family of five, with a 15-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister. Roni participates in scouts in Israel where she supervises fifth grade counselors. Her hobbies include hanging out with friends, travel, watching movies, and going to the beach.
The Shinshinim, who live with host families, keep extraordinarily busy during their months of service. By the time they left for their homes in Israel, the 2022-2023 JEWISHcolorado Shinshinim had engaged in 34,000 interactions with participants in collaboration with 25 partner organizations including Hillels, religious schools, day schools, youth groups, preschools, and camps. They traveled around Colorado—from Boulder to Colorado Springs, from Denver to Aspen.
The Shinshinim Program has operated for more than 20 years and sends some 200 Israeli teens to Jewish communities in North America, South Africa, and Europe. It is a partnership between JEWISHcolorado and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). At the national level, it is also supported, in part, by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal. The larger Jewish Agency delegation of 2,000 emissaries of different ages and backgrounds work around the world at summer camps, university campuses, youth movements, synagogues, JCCs, and Federations.
Locally, the program is run as part of JEWISHcolorado’s Israel & Overseas Center, an initiative that brings comprehensive and coordinated support for connections between Colorado and the global Jewish world.