By Shay Goldenberg, Shaliach
The last few weeks of our shlichut have been, literally, full of breathtaking moments.
It started with an amazing week we spent with The Lippman School seventh and eighth graders in Montana! We spent four days on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation as part of a cultural exchange program and four days in Yellowstone National Park.
Mayana and I felt privileged to be a part of this beautiful cultural exchange experience and to take part in an educational process that connects The Lippman School students and teachers to the people of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. We spent time learning about each other’s cultures and history – and the amazing thing we found out is that we share so many similarities.
For example, just like the Jewish people, the Northern Cheyenne survived, even though they were persecuted over the years, and they manage to cherish their culture and their land, just like us. Both of us are trying to save and keep our respective sacred languages (Hebrew and Cheyenne). This is a big challenge for the Northern Cheyenne because almost everyone in the United States uses English as their first language. But they realize the importance of teaching the Cheyenne language, so there are many programs to educate the young generation to speak Cheyenne, led by our friend, Setovaatse Medicine Bull (Burt).
These are only a few of the similarities between Israel and the Northern Cheyenne Nation. I’ll be happy to share more of them with you in one of my programs during the upcoming year.
We believe that everything that is happening to us is happening for a reason, and, like the Cheyenne told us when we were there, we were summoned to arrive to the reservation. There are no coincidences. We both are very happy that we had this amazing experience.
And just like that, we were back in Israel for a short vacation. Visiting our family, spending the Shavuot holiday with them, and spending time with our friends was great. Even though it went by so quickly, we did a lot. We managed to celebrate two of our best friends’ wedding that took place near Jerusalem, just before Shabbat began. It was a beautiful wedding. We visited Beer Sheva, the city where we met each other. I even took a picture of Mayana sitting at the same table in Aroma (a coffee shop in the middle of Ben Gurion University), only to find out that she is still as beautiful as she was then, maybe even more.
On our last day in Israel, we visited our capital city, Jerusalem, and visited “Ezrat Israel,” a new adventure for us. This is the section where men and women can pray together— and we had the whole wall to ourselves! We placed the notes we received from our beloved seventh and eighth grade Lippman students and from teacher Matt Russ and Head of School Sam Chestnut. So we are sure they should be ready for great things to come!
One thing that wasn’t easy at all for me in Israel was the fact that I watched Cavs games three–seven far away from northeast Ohio. When the Warriors was leading 3:1 I was sure, like I’m sure many of you were, that it was over. But, just like Ariel Ohayon told me even before the series started, the Cavs won it in 7! I felt so happy for the community in northeast Ohio and was excited to see the celebrations, even though I wasn’t physically there! So, one of the first things I did when I arrived was to visit “King James Way.”
Mayana and I are thrilled to be finish our first year as shlichim with you all, and we invite you to come to our last events for this year. We would love to see anyone who is able to come! To conclude, we would like to thank a few people from The Lippmann School for inviting us to be a part of the experience in Montana:
- Sam Chestnut - You are a visionary man. Your spirit is what leads this important journey.
- Matt Russ - You directed an Oscar-winning movie. Every day was a pleasure, and you took care of every little detail in the best way possible.
- Leora Cohen - Besides being an amazing driver of the second van, you are an amazing woman and the students are lucky to have you as their leader!
- Luke Varner & John Bennett - Thanks for the conversations and mutual experiences along the way.
- Efrat Ohayon & Dr. Paul Garfinkle - for taking care of us and feeding everyone!
- The people from the Northern Cheyenne Nation - thanks for inviting us into your homes and into your story. This is an experience that we’ll never forget and we are now also shlichim (Emissaries) of your story and of your culture. We will meet again—that’s for certain
- And last but not least, the amazing Lippman School students! You are so cool, smart and fun to hang out with. Thanks for letting us be a part of your adventure.