The JCCNV would like to thank the following families, synagogues, and agencies who have generously committed or given funds to support the Shiri Rahamim Shlichut Program*:
Anonymous, Sue and Rabbi Bruce Aft, Laurie and David Albert, Jane and Scott Brown, Beverly and Norman Cherkis, Mindy and Warren Cohen, Susan and Shawn Dilles, Julie Fields, Dorothy and Alvin Fuchsman, Gail and Doug Gurin, Sherri and Howard Kohr, Allen and Muriel Marcus, Michelle and David Pearlstein, Rabbi Amy and Gary Perlin, Connie and Al Pesachowitz, Carole Pollner and Jay Warshawsky, Yair Amran, Ilay Yaacov, Eva and David Rahamim, Lorraine and Norman Rosenberg, Sandy and Ralph Rosenthal, Joan and Don Sacarob, Sandra Saydah, Jill and Cary Schwartzbach, John Tolleris, Sarah Elpern and Bruce Waxman, Debbie and Mark Weber, Sheila Wexler, Deborah and David Yaffe
*As of December 7, 2017
Seven years ago, bringing an Israeli representative to our community to deepen the connections between Northern Virginians and Israel was just a dream. Thanks to the vision and financial support of several dedicated community leaders and the efforts and commitment of the Center, the JCCNV-Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) Community Shlichim Program was launched in 2007.
Over the past ten years, we have been fortunate to host six creative and passionate shlichim: Shiri Rahamim (2007-2009), Michaela Cohen (2009-2011), Yael Ingel (2011-2013), Ido Rakovsky (2013-2014), Dana Kalishov (2014-2015), and Na'ama Gold (2015-2017). Each representative brought a unique perspective to the position and became a valued member of our community. Whether teaching a weekly Café Ivrit at a synagogue, helping to coordinate a community wide Yom HaShoah program, facilitating discussions at the Jewish Film Festival, developing Israel programming on the campus of George Mason University, or having meaningful one-on-one conversations about Israeli society with community members, our shlichim have a proven track record of connecting Israel to our community.
As we prepare to say l’hitraot (until we meet again) to Na’ama, we thank her for sharing her passion and touching so many lives. Read her letter, reflecting on her time as Shlicha, below.
We look forward welcoming our next shlicha, Liat Lisha, in September and are eager to explore Israel through her eyes.
It’s been almost two whole years since I landed at Dulles airport and took my first steps into this beautiful building (the “J”). Although this wasn’t my first time in the United States or working in the American Jewish world, I still didn’t know what to expect. Who would I be meeting and what would they be like? More importantly, what would I tell them about Israel from my perspective and how would I share my personal story? These questions, in addition to other concerns like language barriers, food adjustments, and gaining weight, all waited for me on September 25, 2015, my first day in Northern Virginia.
Now, almost two years later, it’s time to reflect upon who I was that first day, compared to who I am today. I can tell you that I had no idea what was coming, but in hindsight, I really had nothing to worry about. From that day on, I met hundreds of people who have been more than wonderful to me. They have wanted to explore and learn about the various aspects of Israel and learn about the many faces that make up Israel today. I’ve met lots of people who know (or want to learn) Hebrew; those who read about Israel in the news or attend lectures and programs about holidays and Israeli culture; people who advocate for Israel via different forums; and mostly people who stop me in the JCC corridors to tell me about their wonderful visit to Israel, or share stories about their Israeli relatives. The amount of love people in this community have for my country — our country — is much greater than I expected, and I’m honored to be the person you share this love with.
I’ve also had amazing professional experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to work with teens from different synagogues in Northern Virginia; I’ve met and talked with groups from different Jewish organizations, from young professionals to those living in retirement homes. I’ve made presentations in front of audiences ranging in size from 5 to 300 people in geographic locations ranging from Gainesville to Leesburg and from Arlington to D.C. I’ve had the privilege to plan, develop, and lead new and exciting programs, such as intimate cooking classes in people’s homes, leadership programs for teens, discussion groups for adults, recreational events for young professionals, and more. Collaborating with a variety of organizations, I’ve worked with hundreds of new people every year, and shared all sides of Israel with lots of people in our community.
And last but not least, I was lucky to find a family here. My husband, Omer and I didn’t know anyone here two years ago, and now we feel like it is our home. So many people have invited us into their homes making us feel like we belonged — whether it is for Shabbat dinners, joining their family trips, celebrating holidays, helping us when needed, and making sure we are warm and happy on snow days — we were always made to feel at home in Northern Virginia. We have so many people we now call “friends for life,” and “adoptive” parents, we have no idea how we can leave this place. The JCC in particular, and the people who work there, made this our home from day one. I know almost every corner (especially the offices where the candy is hidden); all my colleagues and most of their family members; the people who had the vision to create this amazing place; and most importantly, why it will forever remain a wonderful place for Jews and Israel lovers for many years.
I want to thank you all for making these two years unforgettable and a meaningful part of who I am today. I’m sure you will see a lot of me even after I leave the J and I know that you will enjoy meeting and welcoming your next Shaliach or Shlicha. Please give him or her, the same amount of love and home-like feeling as you gave me.
I love you all, and hope to see you next year in Jerusalem!