Meet the St. Louis Shinshinim: Inbar Bloch


Inbar Bloch

Bill Motchan, Special To The Jewish Light

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?

Tel Mond (a town of 14,000 located in central Israel).

What is your job in St. Louis?

I work at Shaare Emeth and Temple Emanuel, and I just do all sorts of Israel programs there with all different ages.

Has it been fun for you?

Yes, it’s been amazing. I get to meet a lot of new people and do all sorts of new things, and it’s really cool.

What has been your impression of St. Louis?

It’s been really amazing. On our free time, we sometimes go see different things or do different things within St. Louis, and we get to see a lot and meet a lot of new people, which is really cool.

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

I’m a person that believes there’s always more to see and more to do. I think in the touristy kind of area, I personally haven’t been to Union Station yet. I really want to go. And, like, a lot of new restaurants and stuff that I haven’t been able to try out yet, which I’m really excited about. I just like to see more and meet more people. I’m really excited for that.

Do you do typical St. Louis visitor things?

So many Blues games.

What are some foods you’ve tried here that you enjoy?

I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t get to eat a lot of the common things here. I always wanted to try toasted ravioli. I haven’t found a vegetarian version. I like hash browns.

Would you encourage your friends back home to participate in the Shinshinim program?

I think it’s an amazing thing to go and be in. Even just the aspect of going and being in a place that isn’t home for a year is amazing. And you develop yourself so much, and you learn about yourself so much. And also just giving from yourself to other people and being in the states, it’s so amazing and so unique, and we’re doing things now that we’ll never get to do in any other stage of our lives.

What’s your impression of the news coverage in Israel and what’s going on there?

I think it’s a really hard time. I think Israel always has . . . there’s always something going on I like to say. It’s a really tough time, and I hope and I believe that one day we’ll get back to just being one whole, one unit instead of being so divided as we are today. That’s what I’m hoping for.