The Jewish Federation’s Congregational Shlichim Program, part of Federation’s Imagine Israel initiative*, is bringing eleven shlichim (emissaries) to local synagogues and schools this year. The program connects Israelis with congregations and schools and transforms how more than 25,000 congregants and students relate to Israel.
Through a program of The Jewish Agency for Israel and generous funding from Federation, our community will benefit from the nation’s largest-ever mishlachat (delegation) of congregational shlichim to serve in our community’s congregations and schools. The congregational shlichim are dedicated to the Jewish people, Jewish heritage and to Israel. They are hand-picked from different parts of Israeli society and diverse professional backgrounds.
In conjunction with their congregations and schools, the shlichim will develop projects surrounding a social impact issue, creating unique programming designed to increase Jewish awareness, knowledge and pride, bridge the gap between Jews of different backgrounds and the State of Israel and promote an understanding of Israel and its ideals both at their “home” institutions as well as for the larger community. The shlichim, in turn, will discover the diverse and vibrant American Jewish community through their varied experiences in Washington.
Learn more about their lives in Israel, what motivates their mission to educate around the world and how they inspire others from their stories.
Miri Bernovsky Tibon
Agudas Achim Congregation
“One of the many things I love about Israel is that it’s a truly diverse country, home to religious, ethnic and cultural communities of all sorts. I love visiting Jerusalem during the Jewish High Holidays, going to Nazareth around Christmas, and visiting Muslim friends in the Galilee during Ramadan. Only Israel can offer you such a combination.”
Miri, 30, is from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Before becoming a Shlicha, Miri worked as a social worker at the Summit Institute in Israel, assisting foster families all across the Negev area. While in Israel, she earned master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at Tel Aviv University, and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She served in the IDF’s Education Corps as a commander in Nativ, the military program for soldiers who go through Jewish conversion during their service. Miri and her husband Amir, a journalist, live on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, situated directly on Israel’s border with Gaza.
Congregation Olam Tikvah and Gesher Jewish Day School
“Right before Shabbat dinner, my friends and I go to Tzedek Fortress. The road there is beautiful, and you need to climb on the rocks to get to the top, where you can see all the way to Tel Aviv. We sit there, making tea or coffee and just talk about our weeks and our plans for the weekend. To me, it is most relaxing place on earth.”
Noy, 23, was raised in Rosh Ha’ayin and lived there her whole life. Before becoming a Shlicha, Noy worked for 3M Israel as an administrative assistant and conference planner, and in the Jewish Agency as part of the screening team for summer camps. Noy served in the Intelligence Corps at the Israeli Defense Forces for two years. In addition to her Shlichut in the Greater Washington area, Noy worked as a Shlicha for two summers at Ramah Day Camp in Chicago area, as a Rosh Shlichim and Rosh Ivrit (Hebrew).
Temple Rodef Shalom
“As someone who lived my entire life is Israel, grew up here, served in the military and met and worked with different types of populations, I would like to bring the diversity of the people in Israel, the difficulties we have while we try to live with one another and the beauty we make while succeeding to do so.”
Almog, 23, was born in Holon and has been living the neighboring city of Bat-Yam for the past few years. After high school, Almog served as a Youth Counselor through the Ministry of Education, and then volunteered at Neve Yehuda Boarding School in Ness Ziona for six months as a shinshin (young emissary). While in the IDF, she served as a Gadna Commander in the Nahal Education and Youth Corps, which consists of groups of teenagers that are about to be drafted to the IDF. There, she helped them prepare for service by teaching them the IDF values, mentality and morals. In the last year of her service, she worked in Bat-Yam with at-risk youth, developing their life skills. Most recently, she has been using her planning and coordination skills at Call-Dan as a sales and service representative.
Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School & MoEd After School Community
“The most important thing that I’m bringing with me is my love for Israel. I believe in and am proud of my country. Although the life in Israel not always easy, I still believe that it such a special place. I want to show my future community Israel from my own eyes – a young Israeli woman’s perspective and not just the good or the bad.”
Danielle, 27, was born in Petah-Tikva, raised in Ra’anana, and is coming to us from Tel-Aviv. Before becoming a Shlicha, Danielle was working on a bachelor’s degree from Seminar Hakibutzim in Special Education. Throughout her years in school, she volunteered as a bible teacher for seventeen-year-olds with behavioral disorders at Broshim High School, a geography teacher for fourteen-year-olds with mental disorders at Tzurim High School, and a language teacher for fourteen-year-olds with autism at Eilon High School. In addition, she volunteered with the Hebrew Scouts Movement and Noar Letet Youth Group for three years.
Congregation Shaare Torah
“I wanted to become a Shlicha because I wanted to do something that I feel is meaningful and important. I love Israel advocacy work because there are a lot of great (and not so great) things about Israel that can and should be shown and talked about. Israel is more than just the conflicts and an army.”
Reut, 26, was born and raised in Karme-Yosef. Reut was highly involved in the Maccabi Tzair Youth Movement since the third grade and even became a madricha (counselor) in high school. Before she served in the IDF, she did a service year in Netanya with Maccabi where she was the head of the branch and volunteered with kids and teens in afterschool programs. During her IDF service, Reut was a search-and-rescue instructor, where she got to work and train soldiers and civilians to become search-and-rescue combat fighters. Later on, she continued with Maccabi as the head of counselors at a branch in Petahya and as a counselor for counselors in Karme-Yosef. After a few years, she went on to Ben Gurion University to earn her B.A. in Life Sciences. Reut has also worked at Camp Ramah Palmer in New England for three summers.
Congregation Beth El and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
“I would love to bring the special Israel that I experience every day. Its uniqueness includes warm people who believe in goodness, togetherness and unity, alongside the complexities and difficulties. Presenting life side by side can interest many who haven’t heard about it before. I will be happy to expose to you the Israeli culture in my environment, the traditions of my family, and my military experience.”
Tal, 22, was born in and is arriving to us from Be’er Sheva, although she didn’t always live there. As a child, Tal moved to the States for a few years with her family and experienced American Jewish life first-hand. When she moved back home, she graduated high school and served in the IDF as a Lieutenant within the Education Corps. She even served an extra year in the Army in Haifa, working with the city council members and head, and working as the Deputy Commander of the officer course in the Education Corps. Throughout her life, Tal has utilized her bi-lingual skills by offering private lessons in English, as well as working at English-speaking summer camps as a coordinator and counselor.
Beth Sholom Congregation
“Growing up in a Zionist Modern Orthodox Family together with my service as a Golani fills me with an incredible source of motivation to be a Shaliach. From my time at university, my charity work, my various jobs, my work in local politics, to multiple times with Taglit-Birthright, it feels like everything I have gone through in my life has brought me to this moment.”
Tomer, 29, was born in Petah-Tikva and is coming to us from a neighboring town of Bareket. After graduating high school, Tomer was in charge of logistics, as well as training and discipline of troops as the First Sergeant in the Golani Unit in the IDF. Once he finished his military service, he went to Ariel University and earned his dual B.A. in Sociology and Human Resources, and Political Science. There, he learned to develop and hone his critical and creative thinking and speaking skills. Most recently, Tomer has been working at IROBOT Israel, where he was the project manager and general manager. He was specially chosen by the headquarters to open their new store in the southern part of Israel.
Congregation Ohr Kodesh
“Growing up I didn’t know anything about the streams of modern Judaism. It was only when I started university that I came across all the different types of Jewish lives over the history and across the world. I think meeting new people can help one build and strengthen his/her identity and life choices. I was raised here in Israel, so I know a lot about the culture, history and struggles of this place. I hope to bring some of this knowledge to you, as I’m learning what you have to teach me.”
Hagar, 28, was born in Ariel and is arriving to us from Tel Aviv. After graduating high school, Hagar served as a Chief Sergeant for two years in the Education and Youth Corps, organizing educational activities and materials for soldiers. After she finished her IDF service, she graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Jewish Studies from Tel Aviv University. Before becoming a Shlicha, she was employed at Walla! News as a graphic editor and senior news editor while simultaneously working on her M.A. in Philosophy at Tel Aviv University.
Congregation Har Shalom
“I believe in the value of family and that ‘family is everything’. The family unit has always been important in preserving Jewish culture and it is often considered the heart of most Jewish communities. My intention is to bring the Israeli Jewish family unit model to the community and to use it as a tool to create a strong family connection inside the community and between the community and Israel.”
Yael, 23, is from Gedera, a town 20 minutes away from Ashdod. While in high school, Yael was an instructor and team coordinator for the Maccabi Youth Movement, where she headed the logistics team and managed the activities. Once she graduated, she served in the IDF Air Force as a Staff Sergeant and shift commander. During and after her military service, she joined three Taglit-Birthright trips, where she helped the participants have a true Israeli experience and see Israel through her eyes. After she finished her military service, she headed to Camp Ramah Wisconsin to staff as a counselor and dance instructor.
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
“During my work as a field coordinator for Tlalim, I saw the different communities that came to see Israel through Taglit-Birthright. I saw the influence a single week can have on the participants, and that’s one of the reasons why I decided I want to spend my next year representing Israel and Israeli society as a Shaliach. The intricacies of Israeli culture, society and geopolitics are difficult to explain, and mis-representation can easily occur. I am passionate in every aspect of my life, I aspire to make a difference around me, wherever that is.”
Idan, 24, was born in Jerusalem and is coming to us from Beit Shemesh. After graduating from high school, Idan participated in a pre-army program to develop leadership and social activism skills. Idan served in the Israeli Defense Forces in the School for Educational Professions and the Education Corps Mobile Unit. After his service, he worked for Tlalim, one of the largest tourism companies in Israel, coordinating and supervising hundreds of tourist groups from all over the world as well as accompanying Taglit-Birthright groups. Right before becoming a Shaliach, Idan was working at Midreshet Oranim, an educational organization dedicated to giving a new perspective on Judaism, Jewish values and tradition to non-religious Israelis as a lecturer.
B’nai Israel Congregation
“I would love to show the warmth and generosity Israelis and Israel have, the amazing educational work done in our country, and to share the tears that run down my cheeks while I drive from north to south admiring the beauty of it all. I would bring all the history of our people and the land. I will talk about the struggles and ways to solve them.”
Tamar, 23, was born in Be’er Sheva, most recently lived in Jerusalem, and has grown up in a very multi-cultural family. Both of her parents made Aliyah (father from Australia, mother from South-Africa) and she and her brother we both born and raised as Israelis. After Tamar finished high school, she went onto the pre-army program Meitarim Lachish where she volunteered, travelled around Israel, and studied Israeli politics, society and history. Afterwards, she served as Sergeant in the Education Corps, working on the Makam–Naarey Raful program, which dealt with troubled soldiers. Tamar decided to become a Shlicha when she lived in Australia for nine months and could feel a need for a Jewish/Israeli surrounding.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Senior Shaliach
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
Tzachi Levy is in his second year as The Jewish Agency Senior Shaliach (Israeli emissary) to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Most recently, he served as Director for The Jewish Agency’s Shinshinim Shlichut Program. Tzachi has a B.A. from Beit Berl College in Informal Education and History, and a M.A. in Public Administration from Sapir College.
Prior shlichut opportunities have allowed Tzachi to serve as an emissary to Pittsburgh, PA and to South Africa. As a 13th-generation Israeli, Tzachi’s strong family roots and Zionist youth movement education serve as his motivation and energy for working at Federation and in the Jewish world.
*Through the Imagine Israel initiative, Federation fulfills its long-standing commitment to connecting Washingtonians with Israel and Israelis through the lens of social chance. A wide variety of social impact programs foster meaningful relationships with the country and its people – programs that make real, sustained impact locally and in Israel.