Noa Levi, Itay Schwartz, Ron Harel, Amit Bellin.
Noa Levi, Itay Schwartz, Ron Harel, Amit Bellin. (John Hardwick/Federation)

For the next year, Noa Levi, Itay Schwartz, Ron Harel and Amit Bellin will make Michigan their home away from home.

Shinshin (שש). It’s the Hebrew acronym for Shenat Sherut which means “year of service.” Kind of like our gap year, Shenat Sherut is a program some Israeli high school graduates take part in before starting their military service. Recently, four such young Israelis (collectively known as shinshinim) touched down in Metro Detroit.

For the next year, Noa Levi, Itay Schwartz, Ron Harel and Amit Bellin will make Michigan their home away from home … with home being the Central Galilee, famous for its kibbutzim, moshavim, dance and music festivals. It’s also Metro Detroit’s Partnership2Gether region where programs like the Israeli Camper Program and Detroit Community Teen Mission give families in Israel and Michigan the chance to connect.

“Americans often hear and read about life in Israel,” says Dona Stillman, associate director of the Israel and Overseas Department at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, “but the shinshinim help them understand what it’s really like to be Israeli.

“Synagogues, schools, camp, the JCC … We hope they’ll be everywhere and meet everyone!” she adds. “Their role is to bring Israel here in a very tangible way.”

“Welcome to Detroit” to our newest shinshinim. We’re so happy you’re here!

Noa Levi
Noa Levi
Noa Levi

Hometown: Kibbbutz Yifat

School Majors: Chemistry and Biology

Interests: Dance, technology

What is your favorite food, and where is the best place in Israel to get it?

“There are two very clear groups. First, everything my mom makes, obviously the best place to get it is our kitchen. Second, ice cream and yogurt, there’s an amazing place in Ramat Yishay called Aglida. Best ever.”

Amit Bellin
Amit Bellin
Amit Bellin

Hometown: Ahuzat Barak

School Majors: Art & Music

Interests: Playing piano, drawing

What is your favorite Jewish holiday? Why? How does your family celebrate it?

“Sukkot, for many reasons — especially because I love decorating the sukkah with my brother. The weather is the absolute best, and we love spending a night outside in the sukkah that we build with our father. I also love the fact that Sukkot calls you to host as many people, family, friends or complete strangers. True, Sukkot does not have any special foods, but it just means you can eat whatever!”

Itay Schwartz
Itay Schwartz
Itay Schwartz

Hometown: Shimshit

School Majors: Economics/Business and Theater

Interests: Sports, theater, photography

What is one special place for you in your area? Why is it special? Is there a story of a particular memory you have from that place?

“In Shimshit, there is a special place called ‘Hamitzpe’ (The Lookout). First of all, there is an amazing view of the fields which represent the Jezreel valley. Secondly, this is our ‘meeting spot’ to sit down and hang together with friends. Therefore, a lot of my memories with my friends happened there, and that is why it is so unique.”

Ron Harel
Ron Harel
Ron Harel

Hometown: Tzippori

School Majors: Chemistry and Theater

Interests: Foreign languages, crafts, sports and cooking

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

“I am very interested in learning and exploring new languages. Before COVID times, I did it through traveling. I fell in love with Spain around a year and a half ago when I first traveled there and decided to learn the language and the culture from A to Z, which I’ve done every day since then surrounding myself with the language 24/7. Plus, in parallel, I began to delve into more languages, places and cultures, and the great majority of the people around me, other than my family and close friends don’t know this side of me. (Fun fact: I started the sortings for the Shnat Sherut in Spanish as well.)” 

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