by Ophir Shay

Ophir Shay

RSY-Netzer has just launched Israel Tour, a three-week summer trip across the length and breadth of Israel exploring the land and all its different communities.

It’s fascinating for me, because I am an Israeli living in the UK.

I came here to be RSY-Netzer’s shinshin in London.

What is a shinshin, you might ask?

It is an acronym for the term shnat sherut, meaning a year of community service.

Before secondary school graduates in Israel attend university, they must enlist in the army unless they go on this type of gap year to serve the community.

I chose to do my year of service in London, even though most people spend their year in Israel volunteering in local schools and youth movements.

What brought me here is my belief in the importance of the Jewish people’s existence around the world. I was sent here on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Israel to connect Jews in Israel and the diaspora.

Here, I am part of a large delegation and live with eight other shinshinim and will be here for the next year. We are looking forward to working with the many different Jewish organisations here, including schools and youth movements, and bringing an Israeli perspective to Jewish life in this great city.

I find the work here in London fascinating.

I have met many kind people and a thriving Jewish community about which I previously knew very little.

I hope to keep learning about Jewish life while I am in the UK and to meet as many people as I can, while sharing my experiences of life in Israel.

So while it is a privilege to introduce people to Israel via programmes such as Israel tour, it is equally important that Jewish life flourishes across the diaspora – just as it is here in London.

• Ophir Shay is RSY-Netzer’s shinshin