Meet the St. Louis Shinshinim: Guy Dobrin


Guy Dobrin

Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief

A Shinshin is an Israeli emissary, usually 18 or 19 years old, who defers their army service for a year to volunteer in Jewish communities abroad to help educate people there about Israel and Israeli culture. They teach at various local Jewish organizations, bringing their authentic Israel experiences to the community they serve.

“Largely, they work with the young population, ages 4 through 18,” explained Cynthia Wachtel, manager of Israel Emissary Initiatives at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. “The fact that these children and teens are meeting an Israeli closer in age to them helps foster better connections, find similarities and learn from each other. It works both ways though. For the Shinshinim, they get to live here and absorb what Jewish Americans are like, and they bring that back to Israel with them and hopefully share that with friends and family.”

The latest and sixth cohort of Shinshinim will leave return to their homes in Israel in August, after spending the year in St. Louis. The Jewish Light sat down with the four Israelis in this cohort – Guy Dobrin, 19, Alma Cohen, 18, Inbar Bachar, 18, and Inbar Bloch, 18 –to find out more about them and how their time here is going.

Where in Israel are you from?

Kibbutz Merhavia, in the north part of Israel. 

What is your job as a Shinshin in St. Louis?

I work at Kol Rinah where I teach at the preschool, I teach at the religious school and I’m also active in the Israel committee and in many of the shul’s events. I also work at Temple Israel teaching pre-school and Sunday school. I also work with the Israel scouts. 

What has been your impression of St. Louis?

I feel like St. Louis is a very American experience. It’s a place where you can do things that you can’t find in New York. Want me to give you an example? I went to see monster trucks. It was very smelly but it was very enjoyable. I feel like that my whole time here, St. Louis is a very warm place. People here are very nice. I’m glad my experience of the United States is Midwestern.

What is something you’ve noticed about working in the Jewish community that is unique/different in St. Louis?

The people I meet in the community are really engaged and interested in Israel. They speak to me in Hebrew and talk to me about things going on back home that maybe I haven’t heard about. I was surprised by how well informed a lot of these people are.

What are you hoping to do that you haven’t done here yet?

To see the Battle Hawks and hopefully, the soccer team, because it’s hard to get tickets and it’s expensive, but hopefully, God willing.

What’s been the biggest surprise of your time in St. Louis so far?

I was surprised by how easy it is to navigate here, everything being a grid and you have all these exits that are numbered. And there is no traffic here especially compared to Israel.

Besides family and friends, what do you miss the most about home?

I miss nature, going out in the morning walking with my dog in the fields. There’s like this beautiful fog and you just walk through all this green around you.

Do you anticipate returning to St. Louis after you go back to Israel?

Of course, to visit. (Our host families) become your family, you know. It’s people you made a connection with. It’s just a fact that they are your family.

Would you encourage your peers to become a Shinshin and if so, why? What are the benefits of being one in St.Louis? I’ve been recommending to my friends to do a gap year. For those who were interested I spoke about this more in depth and explained what I am doing and how impactful it is and how much we learn in our time here and how much we can educate the people around us. I believe that having another year to experience the world out of the bubble we grew up in before we jump into this sea that is the IDF is a good thing.