17 September 2021
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is thrilled to welcome Hagai Dagan Schlachter to our community as our senior shaliach (Israeli emissary)! Learn about his background, career path, and what he hopes to bring to Greater Washington.
Welcome to Greater Washington! Can you tell us about growing up in Israel?
I was born and raised in Jerusalem as the second of four siblings. I grew up as secular but absorbed Jewish tradition throughout my childhood.
As a teenager, I was highly active in the Israeli scouts and enjoyed the sense of belonging and the freedom we had. This experience influenced me deeply, and later, shaped the first steps in my career as I took the path of a more informal education.
Growing up in Israel made me believe that we can better society by working together with others.
Tell us about some of your past experiences and how they prepared you for this role?
For 10 years, I worked in informal education systems, where my focus was leading teams and strategic planning.
A few years ago, I had the privilege to be a community shaliach in Cape Town, South Africa. My focus there was on community building, especially among the younger generation.
This was a meaningful and fulfilling experience, one that inspired me and my family to look for another opportunity to take part in a Jewish community elsewhere in the world.
What encouraged you to take on this new role as a shaliach with The Jewish Federation?
My past role as a community shaliach in South Africa helped me understand how important it is to strengthen ties between Jewish communities around the world, especially when it comes to the role that Israel plays in one’s Jewish Identity. My current role overseeing the mishlachat means I am leading a group of shlichim that work in the different local communities throughout Greater Washington, which I believe is the best way to achieve that goal.
What do you hope to bring to Jewish Greater Washington in your role?
My overarching goal is to strengthen the Greater Washington Jewish community’s connection with Israel, but that can be achieved only through deep, complex discussions and immersive interactions. Therefore, my aim is to challenge participants to engage in a richer way.
In addition, the reality is that interacting with Israel can be daunting for some and therefore people may be apprehensive about such conversations. My aim is to encourage people to interact with Israel by adding an optimistic point of view to the conversation and creating a safe space for a wide range of opinions and questions.
What’s your favorite food?
In general, I love food in all shapes, sizes, and colors!
To name a few of my favorite dishes: knafe, a middle eastern dessert; poyki, kind of stew cooked over charcoal or bonfire, usually made while camping; and of course–burgers!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love hiking, cooking, and spending time with my family.