Students at Richmond Jewish Day School welcomed an Israeli emissary to their classrooms in September.
Lian Swissa, 18, is a high school graduate from Kiryat Gat, a small city in Israel’s Negev region. She is part of Shinshinim, a year-long program developed by the Jewish Agency for Israel with the support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Betty Averbach Foundation.
The program, which is in high demand among Israeli high school graduates, selects a few young Israelis who volunteer for a year of community work abroad with a school, synagogue, community centre and/or youth environment. Their role is to infuse students with a deeper connection to and love for the State of Israel.
The Shinshinim program is highly competitive, with 100 participants selected each year out of 1,500 applicants. The students selected have just graduated high school, and defer their compulsory military service to spend a year abroad as an Israeli emissary.
RJDS is the only day school in Richmond that will benefit from the program, but another emissary in the group, Tomer Tetro, is working at Beth Tikvah Congregation’s supplementary school on Sundays.
Swissa, Tetro and another teen are splitting their time between Richmond and Vancouver, where they are volunteering at King David High School, Vancouver Talmud Torah, Temple Sholom Hebrew School, Beth Israel Hebrew School and at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. At all these organizations the Shinshinim students will support and enrich Jewish life programming and Israel education, teaching about Israeli culture.
Abba Brodt, head of RJDS, said he is thrilled to have Swissa’s energy, enthusiasm and dedication in the classrooms.
“Lian is a great addition to our school programming. For our students, she is a living, breathing window into Israeli society and culture,” he said. “She helps the kids understand day-to-day life in Israel better, as well as being a role model for them. She was very much a leader in her community back in Israel and that is something we hope our students emulate. She will be helping out in the classrooms as well as developing school-wide programs that teach our students about life in Israel.”