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In I participated in the Szarvas Fellowships, a program which brings North American teens to the Szarvas International Jewish Youth Camp in Hungary in order to engage in camp activities and interact with youth from around the world.
Little did I know that this trip, my first time ever in Europe and my first time flying on an airplane without anyone that I knew, would change the course of my life. It was during my time at that summer camp that I first really thought about the existence of Jews in other countries.
It was during my time at that summer camp that I first met Jews my own age from 25 countries around the world. Jews around the world, often from a young age, have the chance to connect with Israeli Jews through pen pal programs set up at Jewish day schools and Hebrew schools, or through organized trips to Israel. While this connection between North American and Israeli Jews is very important it is equally important that Jews from other countries have the chance to build connections both with North American and Israeli Jews and Jews from other countries in the diaspora.
Our religion is so small as is we must unite together as one global Jewish peoplehood. Unfortunately, there are very few opportunities for this to happen. Schools rarely set up pen pal programs with Jews from other countries and trips to Europe or Asia are expensive.
Using four main criteria I match people from all over the world together:. So far, there are over people ranging from 9 years old to 77 years old, ed up from 18 countries.
Binghamton pen pals (pen friends)
Some people get matched instantly, and others, it takes weeks to match. The outbreak of the Coronavirus served as a catalyst for starting this program. I have seen a need for this type of program for a while and with everyone stuck at home in social isolation, this was the perfect time to begin it. Everyone could use some human connection right now and it is a great chance to learn about Jewish life in other countries.
Yet, the Coronavirus will not be the end of this program.
Long after the Coronavirus is gone my hope is that pen pals will continue to be in touch and that this program will continue to create matches — and do more than that. Further developments are on the way to prompt and motivate pen pals to stay connected to one another.
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For those interested in being matched with a Jewish Pen Pal in another country, please fill out the following form. If you lead an organization, school, synagogue, camp, foundation, federation, or are an individual with whom this project resonates, please be in touch as well.
It is through these one on one interactions with Jews all over the world that we can work together to better appreciate the rich Jewish life that exists not just in our own countries, but everywhere. If you have any questions about the program you can reach out to her at globaljewishpenpals gmail. Your Daily Phil.
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