It was Wednesday morning; all of my life was packed into a few boxes and two suitcases. I took a last look at my home , a few last pictures, kisses and hugs to my loved ones and I was on my to the airport, to start a journey of a lifetime, to make a change in people’s lives. I was on my way to start a year or two of Shlichut.
Some of you heard the world Shlichut. Some of you know what it means in Hebrew, but I can tell you one thing, Shlichut doesn't have the same meaning for every person. Shaliach means Israel emissary – someone who engages people of all ages in a range of Jewish cultural, educational, and social activities. However each one of us creates Shlichut in his or her own mind.
When I was in Israel, training for this job, I thought that Shlichut meant to connect and to strengthen the connection between the community in Howard County to Israel. I thought of how many things I have to teach them and to enrich their lives with Israel Culture.
Now that I am here for two months already, I'm realizing how much I have to learn from them. How much I have to learn what it means to be a Jew away from Israel. You have to work in order to be Jewish, you have to work to have a Jewish family and to find a Jewish wife or husband. You have to make an effort to celebrate the holidays and to have Shabbat dinner on Friday night after you have worked all day. It is not easy, and yet the community in Howard County shows me every day how much they want to be Jewish and how much they want to work hard for it.
Let's go back to before that day at the airport to how I came to be a Shlicha in Howard County. I am from Menechamya, a small Mosab (colony) located in the north of Israel. I have worked with children since I was 14. I have been involved in the "Noae Haoved Valomed" movement, an organization that teaches about socialism and tolerance to one another, and also developed leadership skills. I served in the military for three years in the Air Force and had been sent from the army and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to be an Israel culture instructor at a summer camp in New Jersey. When I finished the summer camp, JAFI called me and asked me to do a long-term Shlichut.
I said yes right away, because for all of my life I was raised on Israeli patriotism and Zionism. My grandparents were holocaust survivors who built and developed Israel when there was nothing there. I wanted to give of myself and to contribute my knowledge of the Israeli culture and history to the Jewish people abroad.
I am so happy to be here and to experience this self-fulfilling journey. I hope that during this year, I will pass my love and passion about Israel to Howard County.