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In the wake of a brutal terror attack carried out by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7, Israeli teens found themselves grappling with trauma and uncertainty. The One2One digital pen pal program is an initiative aimed at fostering connections between Israeli and American teens, transcending borders and cultural differences, by pairing the teens in a series of one-on-one video conversations, The Times of Israel reports. The heartwarming program is weaving a tapestry of understanding, empathy, and friendship, offering a lifeline of support especially during these trying times.

Connecting Israeli and American teens
“Here in Israel we go through the war, the rocket sirens and the news and everything, but we have our country, our people and our army. When she (her american digital pen pal) goes to school and there are pro-Palestinian students who bring flags. It’s scary to live like that. It really surprised me. We have so much in common, although we live so far from each other. I had a great time with her talking about the situation and about the differences in how we are going through all of this,” Israeli 11th grader Rom Buchacho told the Times of Israel.

The One2One program leverages digital interaction to connect Israeli and American teens in a meaningful and personal way. The power of this connection becomes a bridge, spanning thousands of miles, as these digital pen pals share experiences, dreams, and challenges with one another. As Israeli and American teens navigate the complexities of their respective lives, they find solace in the virtual companionship of someone who, despite living in a different part of the world, shares the universal struggles of adolescence.

Digital support system
One2One was started during the height of the COVID global pandemic in 2021 and is now in its fourth year, with increasing demand, especially from Israeli teens seeking support and understanding. Digital pen pals provide a unique support system. The exchange of thoughts and emotions helps teens gain perspectives beyond their immediate surroundings. It’s not just about sharing daily anecdotes but also about finding common ground in the face of adversity, realizing that, despite geographical differences, they are not alone in their struggles.

“For global Jewry, these times are affecting all of us. Teens and their communities everywhere are going through challenges they didn’t expect. On the Israeli side, we hear from schools and teachers that they and their students want to connect with Jewish teens abroad, especially now. We frame One2One as ‘interaction as first aid.’ We see this as something urgently needed by both sides.” Yael Rosen, One2One’s Director, told The Times of Israel.

“The experience was amazing as we spoke about topics that wouldn’t usually be spoken about if we saw each other for a cup of coffee. The Israeli I was partnered with was funny, great to chat to, and very friendly. She’s studying at the moment, majoring in economics. We’ve planned to meet up either when she comes to Cape Town or when I visit Israel,” South African teen Adam Osrin told The Jewish Report.

Through shared challenges and triumphs, these digital pen pals become pillars of support for one another. The exchange of ideas and encouragement across continents not only strengthens individual resilience but also fosters a sense of camaraderie that defies borders. The impact of these connections extends far beyond the virtual realm, leaving a lasting imprint on the lives of those involved. As Israeli and American teens navigate the complexities of adolescence during challenging times, the One2One digital pen pal program stands as a testament to the transformative power of human connection and friendship.

This article was originally published on Goodnet and appears here with permission.


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