Meet the 2022 ShinShinim

Tags: Federation, Israel, Teens

  • Share This Story

From L to R, Yoav Manor, Tomer Blise, Gil Geva Keinan, Mical Ortman, Michal Sela, Bnaya Michael Gavish Maor

Each year, Jewish Cleveland is fortunate enough to have a group of high school graduates from Israel work in our day schools, synagogues, and throughout our community meeting and connecting our teens to Israel, the Hebrew language and Israeli culture. These young adults, known as ShinShinim, are part of the ShinShin program, a long-standing partnership between the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and @akiva, a Federation beneficiary agency.

So what’s it like spending a “gap year” in Jewish Cleveland? Here’s what Tomer Blise, Mical Ortman, Michal Sela, Gil Geva Keinan, Yoav Manor, and Bnaya Michael Gavish Maor had to say:

“There are many gap year programs in Israel, but this is the most popular,” said Bnaya. “We’re not allowed to choose where we go, but we’re all wishing that we’re chosen for Cleveland. Other programs are for three months, but this is for one year.”

“Everyone is so nice, warm, and kind,” added Mical. “This community is amazing, and they all respect this program and the people who are a part of it. And so the six of us, who didn’t know each other growing up, get to represent so much of Israel.”

“It makes me proud to see the Israeli flag hanging or Hebrew writing on buildings,” said Yoav. “You can see how much Jewish pride there is here.”

“We were so welcomed into the community and we’re so glad we came,” said Gil. “It’s a hard step for us, but we love it. The teens, the people, everyone and everything is incredible.”

“I want the students and teens to feel like they have an Israeli friend,” said Michal. “Each and every one of us, we are all so different and we come from different backgrounds. We all give them something special.”

“I wanted to be a ShinShin in Cleveland ever since I was a little kid,” said Tomer who is from Cleveland’s sister city of Beit Shean. “I was here for a Super Sunday a few years ago and always promised myself to come back as a ShinShin. This community is amazing, and better than my expectations. Everyone is amazing. It’s so fun to be here and experience everything here.”

Now to really get to know the ShinShinim, here are a few fun facts about them:

Favorite Food:
Gil – steak
Mical – anything potatoes
Michal – shawarma
Yoav – hummus
Tomer – shawarma
Bnaya – jachnun (a Yemenite Jewish pastry)

Favorite ice cream flavor:
Gil – chocolate peanut butter cup
Mical – vegan chocolate
Michal – cookies and cream
Yoav – caramel chocolate
Tomer – peanut butter
Bnaya – lemon sorbet

Favorite Movie:
Gil – The Impossible
Mical – Mamma Mia
Michal – Nerve
Yoav – Olympus Has Fallen
Tomer – The Hunger Games
Bnaya – Blended (Adam Sandler’s vacation movie)

Favorite Musician or Band:
Gil – Nathan Goshen
Mical - The Neighbourhood and Rihanna
Michal – Chaviv
Yoav – Omer Adam
Tomer – Maroon 5
Bnaya – Led Zeppelin and The Beatles

Favorite Cleveland Landmark:
Gil – Mandel JCC
Mical – Chagrin Falls and Trader Joes
Michal – Van Aken District
Yoav – Chagrin Falls
Tomer – The Grove
Bnaya – Nature Center at Shaker Lakes

Do you have a teenager at home who would like to be involved and connected to the ShinShin program or learn Hebrew? Follow the ShinShinim throughout their time in Cleveland on their Instagram page at @Cleveland.shin.shinim, and connect with them directly!

For more information on the ShinShin program, contact Tal Rothstein at trothstein@jewishcleveland.org or 216-593-2861.

Learn More: Federation, Israel, Teens