Bi-Cultural Welcomes New Israeli Emissaries

Posted on: August 26th, 2016 by admin
Racheli Weinberger, Hila Weinberg and Hadar Cohen are Israeli emissaries who will be working with Bi-Cultural and the Stamford community for the current academic year. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Racheli Weinberger, Hila Weinberg and Hadar Cohen are Israeli emissaries who will be working with Bi-Cultural and the Stamford community for the current academic year. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Back to school is an exciting time of year for parents, teachers and students. At Bi-Cultural Day School, back to school takes on an additional dimension as the school welcomes the newly-placed banot sherut (translated as girls who serve). Known throughout the school as “bat ami” or “banot,” these young Israeli women serve in the school as cultural and educational emissaries for a one-year period. Though they are far from their own homes, these young ambassadors quickly become enmeshed in the daily rhythms of Bi-Cultural, leaving an indelible mark on the school and community.

Bi-Cultural typically arranges for two young women to serve in this role each year, however, this year the school is welcoming three women as Israeli emissaries. All three have already served one year of national service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and have opted to complete their second year of service volunteering in a school. Part teacher, mentor, colleague and “big sister,” the bat ami help with every aspect of school life; tutoring students in Hebrew language, chaperoning field trips, hosting class Shabbat meals, teaching Israeli culture and planning and organizing much of the school’s holiday curriculum planning. In addition, the bat ami accompany the 8th graders on their annual, month-long Israel Experience trip, sharing their ruach (spirit) and love of Israel along the way.

This year, Bi-Cultural welcomes Hadar Cohen, Hila Weinberg and Racheli Weinberger.

Cohen, 18, is from Giv’at Shmuel, a city in the Center District of Israel. Cohen, who has an older brother serving as a commander in the IDF and two younger sisters, has worked as a tutor for elementary-aged children. She is excited to help educate the Stamford about modern life in Israel.

Like Cohen, Hila Weinberg, 19, is also from the city of Giv’at Shmuel. She has tutored high schoolers and enjoys art, painting and other creative expressions. The youngest of three, Weinberg, decided that she wanted to travel to the United States for this year-long program because she wanted to meet other members of the Jewish population outside of Israel. “It’s important to meet other Jewish people and to get to know them, to connect with them and educate them about Israeli life. We want people to know and understand Israel and maintain that connection long after we leave.”

Racheli Weinberger, 19 and the oldest of four, is from Jerusalem and met her two other counterparts last year at a youth group meeting. She has also worked as a tutor with elementary-aged children and is “looking forward to making friends with all the children in the school and meeting all the families in the community.” There is so much to learn and to get used it, but we can’t wait to teach people about life in Israel.”

Associate Principal Rabbi Yehuda Jeiger, who oversees the Israeli emissary program, stressed the importance of the banot presence in the overall school culture. “They have an unstoppable energy that permeates the whole school and makes the Jewish studies program that much more meaningful.”