I arrived here a year ago, Aug. 26, 2022.
I remember walking in the Milwaukee airport with my partner, Maya, to meet everyone and go to our new homes. I remember looking at Maya, feeling so anxious and thinking to myself — why did I need to come here? How could I leave my home, my family, my friends, my safe place and start a new life?
Susie, Uria, the Herbst family, the Levenberg family and the Shamah family were all waiting for us at the airport with signs and balloons.
And yes, I was still so anxious but I felt so much better knowing how many people were so excited to meet us. Even if we were stinky and gross after traveling for 25 hours.
The weeks went by and we got to know all of the places where we would work, all of the people that we would work with, all the kids in the schools, and we grew close to our host families.
It started to feel like: “Wow! This is where I need to be, there is a reason for me to be here.” And the months went by and quickly it became February; we went back to Israel to our families and homes for a short visit. And after a week in Israel, I was ready to come back here, to see my host families, my students, my friends, my supervisors and Maya.
The months passed by so quickly, we were able to lead so many fun activities and important events. It was crazy to think that Maya and I were already planning our final activities with the schools, trying to list all the people that we need to say goodbye to. I was so sad to leave, but also so excited to go to camp.
And now, it’s August. We are finishing camp with so many new memories, friends and campers who are a big part of my heart. But it also means that our time here is almost up.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked a few times, “How was your year? How would you sum up the year?” The only word that came to mind was “HOME.”
This year was such a journey for me. This year has shaped me and made me grow so much as a person. This year made me learn how to be a better person and a better friend, how to adapt to new situations, and how to always look on the bright side of life. I learned the value of hard work, I met and worked with so many amazing people, I learned about a new culture and had so many new experiences that I never thought I would have.
I have so many people I need to thank for this incredible opportunity who made this journey possible.
Thank you to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation – without you we wouldn’t be here.
Thank you, Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Jori Briody, the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, and Heather Spencer, Nicolet High School and Yael Gal, Congregation Shalom, Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid, Congregation Sinai and Congregation Emanu-El of Waukesha, for trusting us, giving us free hand in every activity and idea we had, thank you for letting us be a part of your programs.
Thank you, Susie, and Uria, the best supporters I could ever have asked for. You guys have been our anchor here.
Thank you to my amazing host families, the Herbst and Boland families for letting me be a part of your families. Thank you for every moment we had together. You guys will always be my family and home. I love you.
Thank you to my incredible partner — Maya. Without you this journey wouldn’t be possible. You have been my colleague, my best friend, my partner. And you will always be a part of my life.
And last but not least, thank you to the Milwaukee Jewish community, for welcoming us here with open arms, for letting us be a part of your community. All of you will always have a big part in my heart. I will miss you all.
I’m so lucky and proud to say that I’m a part of this community.
And as we said on our magnet – this is not a goodbye, this is a see you later. This will always be my home.
2022 – 2023 Milwaukee Shin Shin
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A pair of shin shins, pre-army high school graduates, visit Milwaukee for a year annually, part of a program of Milwaukee Federation and the Jewish Agency for Israel. This is Orri Eidels’ goodbye letter to the community; for Maya’s, click here.