Ottawa’s newest shinshinim, Liam Afota and Inbar Haimovich, arrived in the city on August 26 to begin a year of volunteer service in the Jewish community.
Liam, from Nesher, and Inbar, from Zikhron Ya’akov, both grew up in Israel’s north and are Ottawa’s third pair of shinshinim. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Shinshinim Program brings young Israeli emissaries – on a gap year between high school graduation and the beginning of their military service – here for a year of volunteer service. They assist young people in Jewish schools, congregations, and camps in enhancing their Jewish identities and ties to Israel.
Inbar said the first thing the pair did when they arrived in Canada was go to Tim Hortons, to “get the full Canadian experience.” Liam said when they arrived in Ottawa and met their host families they quickly fell in love with the city.
The shinshinim stay with host families while they are in Ottawa becoming, in effect, part of the families and their day-to-day lives. Liam’s first hosts are Keren Rabin and Ken Moshi, while Inbar’s is Pam Molot.
“Everyone is just really warm and welcoming, and everybody smiles,” said Inbar, a few days after arriving in Canada. “Even if you’re just walking next to a person you don’t know, they will still say ‘hi’, or ‘how are you’ or ‘have a nice day.’”
Liam said when the pair visited the Ottawa Jewish Community School to meet with teachers and staff, they “were really nice, and would say ‘oh, you are the shinshinim from Israel, you are lovely,’ and they accepted us really well.”
Federation Director of Community Collaboration Kara Goodwin said Liam and Inbar “bring us energy and enthusiasm,” and will build “one-on-one connections with our youth and children,” as well as the rest of the Jewish community.
The shinshinim said they would also like to volunteer at Hillel Lodge and Tamir.
“We really want to do as much as we can and reach out to as many people in the community as we can,” Inbar said.