ShinShinim host families in Tidewater reap rewards from the experience 

by | Jul 11, 2024 | Jewish Tidewater, Latest News

ShinShinim are exceptional Israeli high school graduates who postpone their mandatory military service to serve as cultural ambassadors in Jewish communities around the world. These young emissaries are chosen through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their character, creativity, interpersonal skills, knowledge of Israeli culture, and English proficiency. 

A crucial element of the program’s success in Tidewater has been the generous host families who have warmly welcomed these emissaries into their homes and hearts. Many past host families describe the experience as transformative, of gaining a new family member, and of developing a deeper understanding of Israeli life and culture. 

“Naomi instantly became a member of our family, and we loved having her with us,” says host parent Meryl Mulligan. “Whether going ice skating, having Shabbat dinner at home or with friends, or watching our boys play baseball, she was always up for any family activity or event. We learned so much about her family, her city, and Israel in general, and she was always engaged and willing to answer our questions. Hosting was a great experience for our entire family.” 

Naomi Friedland with the Harrells.
Maya Ostrov with the Weinsteins.

Another host mom, Nikki Glassman, says, “Hosting Maya was an absolute pleasure! It was a unique experience and an amazing opportunity to support the program, connect with Israeli culture, and embrace Maya as a member of our family. There is nothing more important right now than advocating for Israel, and hosting a ShinShin is just one way we can show our support. Our children loved the experience as much as we did, and we would highly recommend that other families host.”n 

Now entering its third year of the ShinShinim program, Jewish Tidewater eagerly anticipates the arrival of its incoming Shinshinim, Danielle and Emily. These two 18-year-old women are ready to make Tidewater their home away from home and are excited to educate and engage the community in all things Israel and form bonds with the wonderful community. 

Host families play an indispensable role in the ShinShinim program. They support these young Israelis, helping them acclimate to life and work in their new community. This unique cultural exchange fosters strong connections between Diaspora communities and Israel, strengthening the global Jewish family. 

To learn more about hosting a ShinShin, visit or contact Nofar Trem at