Sophie Reiss, a participant on the BINA GAP Shnat Sherut year, writes about the strong connetions that you built with other participants.
Each Shinshin (Shnat Sherut Participant) goes in a pair with someone else from their communa to their volunteer placements. In the evenings, I would go to the menash (youth center) each day with Adam, another Shinshin from Spain from my communa. Although we had developed a close friendship during our two week quarantine at the beginning of the year, our time together at the menash is what really solidified our friendship and allowed it to grow into a nearly sibling-like relationship. On the bus rides to and from menash, we would help each other through whatever was on our minds. In the menash, we were a team; we would play soccer on a team against other chanichim, plan english activities together, and generally look out for each other. We were constantly learning and growing together, from the events at the menash and from our time together.
About a month ago, Adam severely broke his leg. After a few weeks of living outside the communa in a nearby apartment with his mother, it was decided he would fly back to Spain to receive the necessary physical therapy, and nobody knew how long it would take or when he would be able to come back. I was devastated, as was the whole communa. He came to the communa for a few dinners leading up to his departure, and I visited him in his apartment many times as well.We spent many somber hours reflecting on all that we had been through in the past eight or so months.
After we had all said our goodbyes, Adam flew back to his home in Spain. In the midst of all of this was Pesach break: two weeks of completely unstructured time to travel and explore Israel. Although it was difficult to transition into a headspace that would allow me to take advantage of this break after Adam left, It helped that I was with the communa the whole time. I went rappelling down the crater of Mitzpe Ramon with the other American girls of the communa and was hosted for the seder by my Israeli roommate Lin and her family. I went backpacking and camping up north with two of my roommates for two days, and I was hosted by my Israeli roommate Almog for Mimouna, a tradition held by Moroccan Jews of throwing a huge dinner party to break Passover with sweet pastries, stuffed dates, and lots of honey and jams.
Although it’s difficult having to say goodbye to Adam, his departure and my subsequent time with other members of the communa during Pesach break has reminded me how lucky I am to have gotten the chance to form such strong friendships. The Shnat Sherut is a really intense year — whether it’s living with 11 others in a small apartment, in our volunteer spots, or just the general intensity of the daily schedule and responsibilities placed on us. This intensity has forced us in the communa to create an intricate web of dependency on each other. We’re all there for each other in different but equally meaningful ways. Although nothing can replace the time each day I spent with Adam at the menash, I feel so supported and loved by the communa, and comforted by the fact that Adam and the rest of the communa will be lifelong friends.
GAP Shnat Sherut