Israeli teens find second home in Jax during recent trip to the States
BY JILL ABEL
Israel Partnership Director
"Coming to the United States and to Jacksonville this summer has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," shared Sharon Rojinsky, one of the five teens who traveled to Jacksonville as part of the Israel Partnership Summer Teen Exchange Program. "This program is an incredible,” he added. “I never expected to learn how similar we are and how much we have in common." The five member teen delegation from Hadera-Eiron traveled with their chaperone, Nitza Gerber, a second time chaperone for the Jacksonville Jewish community. While here, the teens lived with host families, worked at Camp Ki Tov, and shared wonderful experiences with their host teens including visits to Yes You Canvas, Peterbrooke, a cool escape room and an overnight to Orlando and Universal and St. Augustine. The Israelis and their host teens spent time with the residents at The Coves and shared their love of Israel with our entire community.
"The people here are so nice and you get free refills on sodas," exclaimed Or Pravda, the only male in the delegation. "We love learning about this community and all the different people here." The Israelis and Americans were led on a ‘Scavenger Hunt’ by community Shlicha, Dana Marmari where they learned about the different branches of Judaism represented here in Jacksonville and how they all fit together to create the Jewish community. While they feel that Americans and Israelis have far more in common than they realized, they also shared that the Jewish community is stronger here because it has to be since it is such a small part of the population.
The Israeli Partnership Summer Teen Exchange Program is open to teens in rising 10th and 11th grade. The American teens selected for the program travel to Israel for two weeks and are hosted by Israeli teens and their families. In return, those Israeli teens travel to our community and are hosted here for two weeks. The Jacksonville teens who participated in the program this summer made friends for a lifetime and the Israeli teens learned that the community they were visiting loves and supports Israel in ways they never imagined. It was a mutually beneficial experience for both and as Jacksonville teen Rose Blumenfeld shared, “I loved living with someone and seeing Israel through their eyes.”
A huge thank you goes out to the Osher, Blumenfeld, Goldstein, Teitelbaum, Jacobs, and Grosse families for hosting the Summer 2017 Israel Delegation. These families provided the Israeli teens with the most amazing experience. If you are interested in learning more about the Israel Partnership Summer Teen Exchange Program for summer 2018, please contact Jill Abel and 904-224-1445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.