UJIA’s annual Magic Moments programme brought 50 young Israelis to UK communities to help organise Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut events.
They were in Glasgow, Manchester, Radlett, Mill Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb and Wimbledon, being hosted by local families. In Glasgow, six teenagers and a 27-year-old leader made a major contribution to an emotional Yom Hazikaron service at Newton Mearns shul. “People were crying in the audience,” said UJIA Scottish programmes director Joanna Hyman.
Adrienne Cinna, UJIA’s Living Bridge co-ordinator, explained that the personal stories recounted by the young Israelis “about those they know who have been victims of terror do give more meaning to Yom Hazikaron services”.
Sapir Swisa, 22, was an Israeli leader for Magic Moments last year. Now a youth leader at Wimbledon Reform Synagogue, she said that from personal experience the programme created “lifelong bonds” between participants. “I feel like I now have 17 families in England from all the friends I made.”
The JCoSS school in Barnet reported that the 20 Israeli guests brought a “new dimension” to its Yom Ha’atzmaut barbecue. Sixth-formers got to know them and asked questions “in a really honest and informal way”.