The Shinshinim program, a joint venture between CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection through the Living Bridges Committee and The Jewish Agency for Israel, brings young ambassadors for Israel to both educate others about Israel and to build tangible, lived connections between diaspora Jewry and Israel.
At 19 years old, Dor Yohay, originally from Haifa, is well connected with Boston. Dor is one of the Boston area’s Shinshinim (along with fellow Shinshin Nisso Bejar), and he has had many formative experiences growing up that connected him and his community in Israel with the greater Boston Jewish community.
In many ways, Dor is a product of the great work of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection, and his involvement as a Shinshin was destined; In the 5th grade, Dor was involved in a school-to-school videoconferencing program between his school in Haifa, Alon Elementary School, and the Hebrew school at Temple Beth Avodah in Newton. Each class showed each other different elements of their communities, talked about Judaism, their hobbies and their synagogue.
Later, while in the 9th grade, Dor underwent several rounds of exams to qualify for another Boston-Haifa Connection school-to-school opportunity that would bring him and other students from his school, Alliance High School, to be hosted by the students and families at their partner school in Boston, again at Temple Beth Avodah in Newton. Of the 90 applicants from his school, 20 were selected, and Dor was one of them. That trip, undertaken the following year is one that Dor describes as “very meaningful to me, the community here was so welcoming!”
Unfortunately, the day after he arrived in Boston, tragedy struck his family, and he received the news that his beloved grandfather had passed away back home in Israel. Aware that he wouldn’t be able to make it to the funeral or the shiva, Dor felt extremely down. Amidst this loss, there was nothing more that he wanted than to be home with his family.
Support comes from all places however, and in short order his host family rallied around him, helped him with the coping process and kept him distracted. They encouraged Dor not to think of the loss, but rather the 16 great years that he got to experience with his grandfather. This experience only served to further for Dor a sense that the Jewish community could rally together in any place, at any time.
Fast forward to the end of high school, and Dor applied to be a Shinshin. Having been involved in the Israeli scouts movement (the Tzofim) for nine years, he was familiar with developing leadership skills. As part of the Shinshin application Dor had to prove his English and social skills. It took six exams, but he passed and to his delight he was told that he was going to be dispatched to Boston. Dor describes this whole process as being very emotional: “I was able to come back to a place that felt like a second home to me.” At the end of August, 2016, Dor arrived in Boston and has been busy ever since! He lives in Lexington with a host family, and works at Temple Emunah, as well as with the Rashi School in Dedham and Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead. He obviously keeps a very busy schedule!
At Temple Emunah, Dor teaches K-12 in the religious school, and at the Rashi School and Cohen Hillel Academy, Dor and Nisso teach K-8 about Israel. “I feel it’s my mission to be here,” Dor says, “I’m glad to be able to make a positive impression on these kids.” Dor and Nisso, will be working in the Boston area until June with the option to work at Jewish camps over the summer. When he returns to Israel, Dor will join the IDF as a paratrooper. He looks forward to defending the Jewish community through the IDF, just as he feels he defends the community through educating youth.