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Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Israeli twins found a home away from home in Detroit | Community

By meerna Jun12,2024

Twins Bnot Sherut Rachel and Yael Schreiber are spending the year at Farber Hebrew Day School.

Fraternal twins Rachel and Yael Schreiber, 19, of Petah Tikvah, an Israeli city east of Tel Aviv, have spent the last year in Metro Detroit serving as Bnot Sherut at Farber Hebrew Day School and with the Zionist youth group Bnei Akiva.

As a Bnot Sherut, or young woman in Israeli service, Schreiberski acted as emissaries who volunteered abroad in Jewish communities. Last year in Metro Detroit was their second year of service, during which the Schreibers focused on creating Israel-focused programming with two Jewish organizations.

“We are to be part of the community and the school” – Rachel Schreiber explains the concept of Bnot Sherut (male youth in service, meanwhile, are called Bnei Sherut). “Our work at Farber Hebrew Day School includes teaching classes about Israel, teaching students about Israel, and assisting with Hebrew classes.”

Education of Israel

Season after season, the Schreibers helped decorate Farber Hebrew School in ways that reflected Jewish holidays. In the case of Bnei Akiva, they also held Shabbat in their home once a month (Israel provides a housing stipend for Bnot and Bnei Sherut).

However, their most influential influence on local Jewish youth was unintentional.

When war broke out between Israel and Hamas in October 2023, the Schreibers began serving as intermediaries (or women) between Metro Detroit’s Jewish community and events on the ground in Israel.







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Painting tambourines for Purim


“If something happens in Israel, we tell them about it,” says Rachel Schreiber. “At the beginning of the war, the children didn’t know the details or what people in Israel thought about it.”

Schreiber explains that she and her sister helped teach Farber Hebrew School students how to deal with the anxiety of war, what life is like in Israel during times like these, and how to talk about geopolitical events with friends and family.

Yael Schreiber says being away from friends and family when the war broke out was difficult, but it gave them the opportunity to get involved and give back by helping the Metro Detroit community navigate and understand what was happening overseas.

“Even though it was really difficult for us, we felt like we were doing something important,” adds Rachel Schreiber.

Students often asked the Schreibers difficult questions, such as whether it is safe to live in Israel or whether life in Israel is scary.

“We told them it wasn’t hard,” he continues. “This is a house”.

A warm welcome

As Rachel and Yael Schreiber plan to return to Israel in early August after completing their second year of service in Bnot Sherut, they will take with them countless memories and experiences that they say they would not trade for anything else.

“The biggest thing that surprised us here is how much support Jews around the world have for Israel,” says Yael Schreiber. “We didn’t know there were so many Jews in Metro Detroit and that it was such a large community.”

He calls the experience “amazing,” especially at the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, when the local Jewish community rallied to provide the Schreibers with home-cooked meals, support and to help them feel loved and welcome.

“They kept asking about our family and how everyone was doing,” Schreiber says. “Everyone participated in the programs we did for the community. Everyone tried to help by donating something.”

Dr. Joshua Levisohn, head of school at Farber Hebrew Day School, says it has been an “extremely difficult year” for their Israeli Shlichim, especially their 19-year-old Bnot Sherut, but it has probably been the most important year of school work he has experienced so far.

“Showing the reality of Israel to our students was extremely important,” he says. “Awareness of Soldiers, Hostages, Complexities of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut.”

“Because of the age at which they are close to the students,” adds Levisohn, “Rachel and Yael have a very close relationship with our children and have the greatest influence on their thinking and attachment to Israel.”

The twins’ year in Metro Detroit also opened their eyes to the breadth and warmth of the local Jewish community, explains Rachel Schreiber, which was a very “unique” experience.

After returning to Israel, both twins plan to study at university. But for now, they continue to enjoy their remaining months in Metro Detroit.

“This year has been the most humbling and meaningful year of my life,” says Rachel Schreiber. “Everyone here is trying to be Jewish in a good way. They are doing their best.”

By meerna

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