Shlichim: Host Families Reflect on Their Year with the Emissaries

From the Epstein Family:
Agreeing to have a total stranger become a part of your family for six months is a bit stressful. Will he like us? We don’t speak much Hebrew - how good is his English? What will he be like? Will we all get along? Will our regular household rhythms be disrupted? Our family took a leap of faith and agreed to host Yotam, and we definitely made the right decision. Yotam is an amazing person! He is kind, intelligent, funny, thoughtful, easygoing, and yes, his English is excellent. He embraces every new experience with enthusiasm. Our regular weeknight dinners are filled with long, wide-ranging conversations on everything from politics to food to the merits of PlayStation versus Xbox. We’ve learned so much about life in Israel. Yotam is very knowledgeable about the U.S., and is always eager to learn more and share his perspectives. Amalya Brownstein, the Young Emissary Coordinator, instructed us to treat Yotam as a member of the family, so we do. He sets the table, walks our dog and does his laundry, just like our kids do. He knows how to raid the fridge for a sweet treat. It is amazing how easily he fits into our family life, and how he has become a part of our family. We miss him when he is out doing his emissary work. Our dog gives him a very warm greeting every time he comes home. During Pesach, we enjoyed sharing one of our favorite holidays with Yotam and adding his voice to the seder table. One day, we look forward to visiting him and his family in Israel.

From The Grubman Family:
Our family first experienced the emissary program while our four children were at Ezra Academy. The emissaries were an integral part each morning. They started out each day with a fun song, followed by a “word of the day” during announcements in hopes of teaching each student something new every day. They were young, funny and always loved by every kid. We got to know the two emissaries each year through the programming within the community, and talked one day, that we would love to host an emissary when the time was right.

Well, that time had come this year. We said that we would host a girl. After three sons, our fourth child, a daughter, longed to have a sister. Our emissary, Raz, arrived. Suitcases in tow, we helped her to her room and welcomed her into our family. It was the moment we had been anticipating. Nervous. Excited. We dove in, and haven’t looked back. It has been such an amazing experience. Raz has taught us so much more about Israel- the country, its people, culture, language, cuisine and tradition. There is still so much more to learn. We have shown her
our country as well, and shared our traditions. It has been such a fun journey so far. We welcomed a new member to our family, and have welcomed her Israeli family into ours as well. It has been an incredible experience. We look forward to learning together, sharing together and taking our lives in a new direction together. Raz is a sister, daughter and a friend all wrapped into one. All because of the emissary program that we said “yes” to. Thank you!

For more information about becoming a host family, please contact Amalya Brownstein or (203) 640-4532.


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