Our son, Adam Scheinberg, recently returned from the 10-month Arevim Masa Year of Service program in Israel. After going on Birthright at the end of 2019, he wanted to spend a year on a volunteer program in Israel, so we did some research and found out about Arevim.
Then COVID-19 hit, travel stopped, and we were quite sure the whole thing was going to be cancelled. As 2020 progressed, we waited for the axe to fall. But it didn’t!
We received word from the program director that things were going ahead, that there were some special measures to take, some changes to the program, but that they were doing their best to make the program as good as it could be under the circumstances. We were all thrilled! The alternative would have been online studies from home—not the most exciting prospect.
After a few Zoom calls with all the Arevim organizers, the parents, and the kids, Adam received his special permission to go to Israel (since Israel was not accepting regular tourists). He packed his bags and off we went to the Montreal airport on August 31, 2020, fully masked but as yet unvaccinated. The airport seemed empty at first but surprisingly soon filled up. I waved goodbye as Adam went through security.
The 2-week quarantine was tough but allowed Adam and his roommates to become close doing whatever they could to get through two weeks cooped up in the apartment. Some virtual activities were held, but everyone was eager to get out and see Tel Aviv and all of Israel. After the high holidays, Adam worked at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv as a nurse’s aide for several months, and then as a teacher’s assistant at King Solomon School in Herzliya. He received his COVID-19 vaccines in December and January—long before we were vaccinated in Canada—and was able to join a gym and go to restaurants and clubs. The group went on trips up north and in the desert and had wonderful experiences. They even got to go on Birthright again! During the war with Gaza in May, Salo stayed in close touch with the parents and organized to have the group taken up north to avoid the Hamas rockets. At the end of the program, a “graduation” was held for all the kids, and the school had a special ceremony to thank the volunteers.
Adam returned from Israel glowing—not just with a great tan (and new tattoo), but raving about Israel, in a mix of English and Hebrew. He learned and grew, made new friends for life, and became closer to Israel. His videos tell it all! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUSVjGpDgjtM5CaIVvKTcKA
Sharon Clark & Marty Scheinberg, Ottawa