MILWAUKEE – A pair of young ladies – both of whom just happen to love their cats and have an interest in the arts – have arrived to spend a year helping Jewish Wisconsin connect with Israel.
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.
The shin shins spend their time in area public and religious schools, interacting with American youth, spending time with Hillel Milwaukee, at synagogues and at the Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC, among other activities. Shin shins must go through a rigorous application and selection process before they can earn a spot in the Milwaukee area.
This year’s shin shins are Maya Appleboim, 18, and Orri Eidels, who turns 18 at the end of this month.
Eidels was born in Chicago, growing up there until her family moved back to Israel when she was 5. She’s from Kfar Tavor, a village west of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. She likes sports, including gym training, tennis and nature walks.
Appleboim is from the Golan Heights; her mom moved there because she liked it during her military service. Appleboim wants to meet new people here and hopes to find a way to better understand a more observant lifestyle, which is not how she lives; she’s curious.
“It’s really important to me to make connections, friends, to have new experiences,” Eidels said, adding that she wants to connect people with Zionism, too.
If you see a shin shin, why not say hello, welcome them to Milwaukee, and ask about animals, the arts or Israel?
Appleboim had a dog, Simba, when she was younger, and now has two cats, still back in Israel. “I love pets,” she said. “I feel like I have a real connection with my animals. I don’t know how to explain that. But I love animals in general.”
Eidels has three cats, including one named “Covey,” for having joined the family during the arrival of COVID-19. She loves her animals. “They’re sweet. They’re cuddly,” she said.
Appleboim loves the arts. She enjoys performing in plays and she majored in theater, social sciences and biology. Israeli high school students often select majors.
“I love how I can be a lot of different things,” in drama, Appleboim said. “I feel free when I act.”
Eidels studied filmmaking in high school and worked on feature films and documentaries. “Each time you had to experience a different role. Like sometimes you were the editor, sometimes you were the film photographer, or the director,” she said. Film studies was one of her majors, along with diplomacy and communications.
“I think I loved film and photography since I was little,” Eidels said. “My grandpa was a director, like a film director. So I think that’s something that made me love it.”