Until I see you again, Milwaukee! 

 

Wow! What a journey. I can’t believe my shin shin year is over already. I remember the moment I received the phone call and was told that I was accepted to be Milwaukee’s next shin shin, knowing I was going to have once-in-a-lifetime experience, leaving my friends and family. I hopped on a plane alone to Milwaukee, a place that months ago, I had never heard of. 

I was told before my arrival to be prepared for the cold weather and the warm-hearted people. The moment I landed, I immediately understood just how true this is. People came to greet me while keeping a safe distance when I was in quarantine, making sure I’m doing well and ready for the upcoming journey. I was welcomed with open arms into the Marks family, my incredible host family. They showed me how to be a true “Sconnie.” 

Being a shin shin in Milwaukee meant that I was accepting a great challenge, representing Israel at the age of 18, knowing the huge impact and responsibility that comes with the role, teaching and sharing with others about my life back home at the moshav. I was fortunate to work in many places this year, virtually and in person. I got to know the amazing people that live in this community. This year was so special for me.  Looking back on this year, I realize how much I’ve learned, while acquiring new tools, facing and solving challenges in a creative way. 

And for the future shin shins, you have no idea what an adventure you are about to have! Here are some things I know after my fantastic year: 

  1. Being a shin shins in this place is so unique. Once you are a MKE shin shin, you will always be a MKE shin shin. 
  2. There is always someone from this community that is there for you. Everyone will help you right away. They are the best family out there. 
  3. This is a place that will always be special to me, knowing that I can always come back. There is no place like home! 
  4. You might need to find a “Starbucks name,” because Noam is not a popular name here. It’s fun to see how your name will be spelled or pronounced when you grab a cup of coffee. 
  5. And most importantly: You will learn how to step out of your comfort zone, accomplish goals and dreams, thanks to the amazing people that surround you here. 

There is no way to summarize this year in writing. The memories will stay with me forever, as will all of the people who I have met and helped me along the way. I will always remember those people, that without them my shin shin year would not have happened, even when COVID changed it completely from what I imagined it would be. This year was so unique, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. 

Working with the community virtually or in person, I finished my year of service in an incredible place, the Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC, where my mom was a counselor thirty years ago. I will always know that this whole year would never have happened without the help of the amazing people from this community. I am so grateful for all of this. 

A special thank you to Susie Rosengarten, the Marks family, Rabbi Hannah Wallick, Uria Roth, Shaked Ram, Tziporah Altman-Shafer, Yael Gal and the incredible staff at Milwaukee Jewish Day School and the synagogues, and of course, all of the wonderful students with whom I was able to work.  Without all of you, my year would never have been complete. 

Thank you, Toni and everyone at Camp Interlaken for an amazing summer. 

Thank you, Milwaukee.  I do not say “goodbye,” for it is only a “lihitra’ot,” until I see you again. 

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What’s a shin shin? 

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. 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.