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Good evening everyone.

I’m a little bit excited so with your permission, I will read what I wrote to you all.

Almost a year ago, I started this journey: one girl, with two suitcases, a great ambition mixed with fear from the unknown and with a great sense of mission.

Leaving my home, my family, my friends and the well-known environment in Israel was not easy as you can guess.

However, when you do something out of faith and a sense of mission, the fog spreads, and things get a great and special meaning.

It is true that we all have formative experiences at school and I will probably have some more during my military service. However, a Shnat Sherut (year of service) shapes us in a different way – mainly because of its intensity, its special frame and its location on the timeline of our lives. This is the year that most of all teaches us about priorities in life and consists of countless small experiences that shape our character and fills us with pride about who we are: Jews.

Jews who have “won” a lot of evil on the way but serve the State of Israel and stand next to the State of Israel -the Jewish state with a  lot of pride. And me, Lir Barazani, the little girl from Modiin, Israel, with all this excitement, got here, to St. Louis.

I didn’t know much about this place before, so my heart was filled with anticipation and excitement, but also with a little bit of fear. Slowly, and as I felt the great embrace of this amazing community, your big and warm hug – all the fears disappeared and I could focus on what I had come to do here: to educate the Jewish community abroad about Israeli culture, tradition and roots and how different it is to be a Jew in the Land of Israel versus a Jew in the United States.

I taught a lot but I learnt so many new things! The activities were varied and included a lot of Israeli games, personal stories and Judaism in a different point of view.

The study of all these activities was mutual: besides teaching your amazing children, I learned a great deal about the differences in culture and especially I learned about the children I taught.

Part of the idea of ​​integrating into the community also includes living with host families. It is time to thank them: Thank you to the Frishers, Smith, Kress and Hirsch families who took me to their home and families and opened a window to their hearts. With each family, the experience was different and special in its own way for me. Great thanks for that. I wish I would be able to host you in Israel one of the days. My home is your home from today.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank to the Jewish Federation and to my supervisor Cynthia and my congregations – United Hebrew and Bnai Amoona for making this year happen. Without you all of this wouldn’t happen – thanks.

Today, when I stand here trying to summarize this year, I try to think whether there is one experience that burns in my mind more than the other. One thing that I will never forget.

It is almost impossible to answer this question. חיוך והפסקה because this year gathers and connects to me countless creative experiences, events that brought me to new extremes, situations that gave me a different perspective on life and in general, and especially the understanding that in one year I received a great responsibility: I represented a country – my country, I made connections with the community and found a new big family… so my one moment is this whole year.

I am leaving now, and begin the next chapter in my life when I am stronger, better and grateful for an unforgettable experience.

Thanks to each and every one of you for that. I love you and already miss you all.

Just remember it’s not a goodbye it’s a see you later.