Austin To Get its First Ever ShinShinim | Shalom Austin

Austin To Get its First Ever ShinShinim

The Jewish Outlook

Jun 29, 2023

Oren Shay and Yarden Bleicher. Courtesy: Iris Bartov

By Sammi Mazuz and Iris Bartov

As a part of Shalom Austin’s Israel initiative, a Zeff family grant and local donors, this year two ShinShinim, young emissaries from Israel through the Jewish Agency, are coming to Austin. Yarden Bleicher and Oren Shay will be in Austin this fall before entering the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and will be a part of the community as shlichim (emissaries) to educate and engage while experiencing the world of diaspora Jewry here in Austin. Bleicher and Shay will be working and engaging with local Jewish institutions, including Austin Jewish Academy, Tamim Academy, the Zeifman Family Early Childhood Program (ECP), local synagogues, high school youth groups, the Israeli Tzofim, Texas Hillel and Shalom Austin.

The ShinShinim will creatively bring Israel to the community through providing programming that will involve people of all ages to create a meaningful relationship and connection with them. They will grow as individuals but also impart such knowledge, stewardship and excitement about bringing Israel to our community.

Shalom Austin’s partnership with the Jewish Agency has increased with opportunities for collaboration, learning and connection to other communities also receiving ShinShinim, with the closest partner being San Antonio. Iris Bartov, Shalom Austin arts and adults director, and Samantha Mazuz both recently attended a Zeff conference in Denver where they learned more about this program.

Bleicher studied diplomacy and computer science in high school and was a scout leader. She describes herself as coming from a close-knit family, where dad is a nonprofessional comedian and mom gives great advice. She loves dance, travel, especially in the desert, and to serve her community. The thing she is most looking forward to is meeting the community and sharing Jewish traditions with her host family. A few of Bleicher’s favorite things include the color green, Purim, sushi, sharks and Kinder Bueno candy.

Shay also comes from Ness Tziona, majored in physics and computer science and in his spare time loves watching movies with his family, programming, and photography, as well as cooking awesome shabbat meals. One of his favorite things about Israel is the warmth and familiarity of the people. He says he is looking forward to sharing his love of Israel with Austin and having Kiddush with his host family. A few of Shay’s favorite things are the color red, Purim, pizza, dolphins and M&Ms.

Both ShinShinim say they are eager to come to Austin in September and are excited to bring Israel, culture and Hebrew to Jewish Austin.

People interested in helping to make Bleicher and Shay’s stay in Austin meaningful by showing some Texas hospitality, can contact Iris Bartov at or (512) 735-8086.

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