Bringing Israel To Baltimore


What would inspire eight Israeli teens to leave family and friends, travel almost 6,000 miles and willingly immerse themselves in a foreign language and culture for an entire year? The answer was unanimous: a deep love of Israel and a desire to share that love with the Diaspora.

In this week’s cover story, JT reporter Susan Ingram meets up with Baltimore’s eight shinshinim, as they reflect on their time in Baltimore. Shinshinim are high-school graduates who defer their military service for a year of service abroad. Shinshinim is a Hebrew acronym for ‘shnat sherut,’ meaning “year of service.”

Nathan Altshuler, mid-Atlantic high school coordinator at StandWithUs, sees shinshinim as an invaluable resource.

“There’s a huge need to have a connection of teenagers in America, Jewish American teenagers, and Israeli teenagers,” he said. “And the fact that we have more in our community, makes our community stronger, makes our teens learn more, and gives us an opportunity to really include all the diverse members of this community … From what I’ve seen … they’re doing an incredible job.”

Shinshin Tomer Sharon, 19, said that before coming to Baltimore, Tomer had no experience with Diaspora Jews, but wanted to learn.

“… I came here … to build a bridge between the Jewish people in Israel and the Jewish people in the Diaspora.”

Like all eight shinshinim, Tomer’s mission will not end when he goes home.

“When I go back to Israel, I will be a Shaliach of the Jewish community of Baltimore in Israel,” he added. “That’s something that I will take with me for [my] whole life.”

JT reporter Victoria Brown writes on how the Jewish owner of Maryland Healthcare Clinics, Semyon Friedman, became concerned about the lack of Holocaust knowledge, so he committed to take employees, clients and community leaders to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Both Semyon and his wife, Janna are Holocaust survivors.

With security for Jewish institutions on everyone’s mind lately, JT reporter Connor Graham reports on how the Secure Community Network (SCN) is partnering with The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra for a regional security planning and preparedness conference titled, “Safe & Secure? Empowering Jewish Communities after Pittsburgh & Poway.” On May 30, participants will learn strategies to protect their synagogue, school, JCC, camp or business.

Congratulations to JT’s Susan Ingram, Ebony Brown and Ross Meadows, who were recognized by the Maryland, Delaware, DC Press Association (MDDC). Ingram won seven awards, including Best of Show in Arts/Entertainment Reporting. Ebony Brown, art director, and Ross Meadows, graphic designer won first and second place, respectively, for News Page Design.

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