Meet the Shlichim

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington proudly welcomes seven cultural and educational shlichim (emissaries) to our local synagogues and schools for the 2017-2018 year, deepening our community’s relationship to Israel.

We’re thrilled to partner with 11 congregations and schools through a program of The Jewish Agency for Israel, to bring these incredible cultural ambassadors into our community to develop social issue-focused projects and events designed to enhance our connection to Israel and Israelis.

Learn more about their lives in Israel, what motivates their mission to educate around the world and how they inspire others from their stories.

Rena Abelman Headshot

Rena Ableman

Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah

“One of the things I love about Israel is right before Jewish holidays when you can feel that the holiday is coming not just at home but also in the general atmosphere and on the streets. People are in a rush to get their shopping done, the radio plays the right songs for the specific holiday, the signs on the bus stop are wishing you a “chag sameach” etc. At that point, my home and the world just seem to be in sync.”

Rena, 26, was born and raised in Jerusalem, and is the fourth of five children.  After high school Rena participated in a religious pre-army program for young women in Yerucham, a small town in the Negev desert which turned into her favorite place in Israel and her second home. In the army, Rena served as a teacher in a high-school equivalency program for soldiers. Before becoming a shlicha, she lived in Be’er Sheva where she studied Education and Jewish history at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Hadar Golan Headshot

Hadar Golan

Temple Rodef Shalom 

“I’m a proud Jerusalemite! I think my eyes symbolize the complexities, passion and uniqueness that Israel embodies. My favorite place in Israel is Mahaneh Yehuda market just before Shabbat begins—a short 15-minute span when you can feel the transition between the profane pace and the holy sabbath—and appreciate even in such a complex place there is the Shabbat, a time of rest which we all need.”

Hadar, 24, is very excited to be part of the Greater Washington Jewish community, to learn about Jewish life in America and connect others to her life story and Israel.

Ayelet Levi Headshot

Ayelet Levi

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation and MoEd

“The thing that I like the most about Israel is the variety of breathtaking views everywhere. Despite the fact that it is a very small country, you can find everything. The north is full of green, the urban architecture in the center, the white and snowy mountain Hermon in the Golan Heights, the amazing beaches of the Mediterranean, the beautiful desert of the Negev and the unique red mountains in Eilat.”

Ayelet, 26, born and raised in Ra’anana, spent the last three years living and studying in Be’er Sheva. After high school, she decided to participate in a year of service in “Wizo Nir Haemek,” a boarding school and youth village near Afula. After her year of service, she was recruited to the IDF and served as a guide commander in “NATIV,” a Jewish Zionist Identity course, under the educational unit of the IDF.

Itsik Sayag Headshot

Itsik Sayag

Congregation Beth El and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

“My favorite place in Israel is Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the old city wall. There I can just relax in the breeze which captures the Jerusalem vibe perfectly, and enjoy the privilege of watching Mount Zion as I see the diverse and unique population walk by.”

Itsik, 28, born and raised in Tel Aviv, is the youngest of 5 brothers and sisters. His parents came to Israel from Syria. As a soldier in the IDF, Itsik served as a writer and director in the Israeli Home Front Command, directing advocacy and information materials as well as ceremonial and large-scale events. After leaving the army, he continued to develop his passion for film and completed a BA degree at the Sapir College in Sderot. Recently, Itsik lived and worked in Jerusalem, where he wrote, directed and produced a variety of different projects.

Ella Tesler Headshot

Ella Tesler

Shaare Torah Congregation

“Israel is my homeland, and my entire family fought for that. After hiking throughout Israel it’s hard to choose one favorite place. However, Jerusalem will always be the most special place in my world.”

Ella, 23, grew up in Kibbutz Yavne. After high school she studied in a pre-army yeshiva program called Ein HaNatziv and then joined the IDF where she served as an officer and commander in the education corps for five years. For the last three months, before coming to the Greater Washington community she hiked the Israel National Trail.

Noy Peri Headshot

Noy Peri

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 is 22 years old and coming from Rosh Ha’ayin, where she was raised. In the past year, she 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.

Miri Bernovsky Tibon headshot

Miri Bernovsky Tibon

Agudas Achim Congregation

Prior to joining the Jewish Agency, Miri worked as a social worker at the Summit Institute in Israel, assisting foster families all across the Negev area. She is finishing a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at Tel Aviv University, and holds a BA in Social Work from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She served in the IDF’s Education Corps as a commander at “Nativ”, the military program for soldiers who go through Jewish conversion during their service. Prior to moving to Alexandria, she and her husband Amir, a journalist, lived in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, situated directly on Israel’s border with Gaza.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Senior Shaliach

Tzachi Levy Headshot

Tzachi Levy

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Tzachi Levy is in his first 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.