Israeli Noam Rabinovich has been in Milwaukee for three months now and she’s arrived at two key takeaways: the snow is like something out of a movie and the community here is amazing.
“Let’s talk about the winter,” the 18-year-old said. “In Israel, you just need to pick which beach you want to go to.”
The Israeli teen is a Milwaukee shin shin for 2020-2021. She arrived in Milwaukee on Dec. 25, 2020, a few months later than shin shins usually do, because of the pandemic. A shin shin is a young emissary who comes to Milwaukee (or some other community) from Israel for a year, to spend a pre-army year abroad. Shin shins visit and work in schools, synagogues and other spots around town.
The shin shin program is funded and organized locally by Milwaukee Jewish Federation in cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel, and it has been connecting Wisconsin with Israel for decades.
Rabinovich brought a coat from Israel, which led her to a key conclusion. “I thought my coat would be good here but it’s not,” she said.
That’s OK, though, because Yellow Wood, the outdoor gear boutique at 401 E. Silver Spring, Whitefish Bay, donated a heavy, new coat for Rabinovich. Told about this by Rabinovich, the Chronicle asked Yellow Wood about it. “My mother has been buying the shinshinim winter coats for as long as they have been here,” said Proprietor Moshe Katz, of his mother Jean Katz. “The idea that these ‘kids’ would be cold while here was more than my mom could tolerate. When we opened Yellow Wood, she would ‘buy’ them from us.”
Thus, a Yellow Wood coat is donated annually for shin shins, who typically have never experienced a winter season like we have in Wisconsin.
“In pictures it looks so nice and calming until you drive in it,” Rabinovich said. “It’s so pretty, to wake up, looking out the window.” She genuinely loves the snow, she said, even though she has curiously observed her host family’s snow blowing, and what happens when a snow blower stops working.
Rabinovich said she didn’t know anything about Milwaukee, but when she found out she was coming here she started hearing in Israel that it’s a great community. It turned out to be true, she said.
People have been giving her free food and merchandise – Packers and Badgers clothing and memorabilia. She wound up with two pairs of boots and returned one to the giver.
“Even with the cold, everybody has super warm hearts and is welcoming. There’s always somebody for support,” she said. “I’ve learned how powerful community can be.”
Before leaving for Milwaukee, Rabinovich was also on the receiving end of a great deal of excitement from Israeli boys – she would be in the same city as Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo!
Since then, Milwaukee has rubbed off on her.
“I’m now a super Bucks fan,” she said.