Thank You for a Wonderful Year!

By Michal Neuman, 2022-2023 Shinshinit

I am so honored to say I am part of such a magical community.

My name is Michal Neuman; I am a proud Shinshinit in Metro Detroit. ShinShin is a Hebrew acronym for Shnat Sherut (year of service). Each year, Jewish Federation’s Israel and Overseas Department brings ShinShinim for a year of service where we work in Detroit’s community running programs and making connections.

This week, I am returning to Israel after the most incredible year of my life. I arrived in Detroit last August, and I spent my year serving the warm, loving and welcoming Jewish community of Metro Detroit.

When I arrived, I thought I knew everything. I moved to Israel from New York when I was 8, and thought I knew all about what American Jewish communities looked like.

I quickly realized that in life, the more you learn the less you know. I never imagined how loving, tightknit and vibrant this community truly is.

When we landed, we were taken to Leo’s Coney Island on Telegraph and Maple. We were told never to say anything we wouldn’t want the whole community to know when we are at Leo’s. We took that advice very seriously and quickly realized just how many involved community members we have.

I quickly started my job at Hillel Day School, teaching kids of all ages about Israel. At 18, I was given a full-time job, and I was trusted to educate the next generation about Israel. Every moment of work at Hillel was a pleasure. I was embraced and taken care of by every faculty member, and the relationships I developed with the students were one of a kind. I had the honor of being their direct portal to Israel.

I did not take that responsibility lightly. It was my job to deliver them my personal Israel. The real Israel, where I live with my family and friends. Where I am a normal high schooler with hobbies and interests. I later started working at Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield. I was welcomed into the family and had the honor of working with SSTY, Shir Shalom Temple Youth. These were teenagers my age. We shared the same interests, loved the same foods, watched the same TV shows. I made real friends from the program and was able to show them how different life is for someone their age in Israel. I joined them on their annual trip and went to Cincinnati. This was not only an opportunity for me to travel, but a perfect chance to connect with the high schoolers. The trip was one of the highlights of my year, and the bridges I have built at SSTY will carry on.

Though I had plenty of formal work, the relationships I developed on my own with community members are life-long. I was invited to many homes for Shabbat meals, for Israeli programs, bar and bat mitzvahs and much more. I felt so loved and taken care of. Community members drove me around when it snowed too hard, taught me how to properly drive in the U.S., and cooked me delicious Israeli meals when I missed home. I am so honored to say I am part of such a magical community.

The highlight of my year was being hosted by a local family, the Feinbergs. They initially agreed to host me for six months, but we soon realized that would not be enough time together.

From the moment I arrived, they felt like family, and I have been treated like a member of the family every moment since then. I connected my family from home with them. A family from Michigan can now say they have family in Jerusalem. That is the magic of this program — connection. The Feinbergs will stay family for life, and I am so grateful for their love, warmth, generosity and hospitality this year.

In a few weeks, I will join the IDF. I will be teaching in schools and youth villages throughout the country, and helping new immigrants settle in. My experience here has given me the personal and professional tools to embrace that role, and I couldn’t be more excited to start. Although I am returning to Israel, I am sure this goodbye is only temporary. I feel that I am leaving home to go home. I am twice as lucky now.

Please keep in touch, and never hesitate to reach out for any Israel thoughts or questions. My email is Thank you for the best year of my life!