the party is over
The lights go out, the trumpet says
goodbye to the violins…
To wake up tomorrow morning
with a new song in our hearts
to sing it with strength,
to sing it with pain.
To hear the flutes in the free breeze
and to start - from the beginning.”
(Ve’Lifamim Ha-Hagiga Nigmeret –
Hakol Over Habibi – And sometimes, the party is over)
WOW. I can’t believe that I’m writing my last article for the community. How can I even describe in words everything I’ve been through over the last two years?!
This two years, being your Israeli shaliach (emissary), have been two of the most amazing years of my life. I’ve met so many people that made this experience unforgettable and meaningful, and I have made friends for life.
In the first year Mayana and I worked together and created many programs geared to bringing Israel to the Akron community. This was an amazing year for us as a young couple, living a new place, in our home away from home, and learning how to lead a Jewish life outside of Israel. We got to see how special Israel is to each and every one of you.
Experiencing the U.S.
During this year, we got to travel around the United States together and gather lots of wonderful experiences along the way. Some of these experiences we couldn’t even have imagined we would experience prior to our arrival in the community as your shlichim— like spending a Shabbat dinner with an Amish family or travelling to Montana and building a wonderful friendship with friends from the Northern Cheyenne Nation. (In late May, I’ll be returning to Montana for the second time and I’m super excited about it!).
Fast forward to this past year: Mayana began her own incredible journey. She visited over 20 communities in the last six months, sharing her personal life story using her unique voice. She shared about diversity in Israel and in the Jewish world. This was an amazing opportunity for her and I’m very proud of her.
Outreach Beyond the Jewish Community
As for myself, I enjoyed the challenge of working in our two wonderful communities of Akron and Canton. One of the goals set for myself was to reach out to non-Jewish audiences and share my life story and of living in Israel. I am very happy and satisfied about the numbers of students I got to meet in the last year, by visiting more than 30 different middle and high school classrooms in the Akron and Canton area. One of my best moments this year was performing an Israeli song, playing my guitar, while Firestone High School dance department students danced beautifully. That’s what music is all about: Bringing people together and building bridges between different cultures. Another beautiful moment was visiting Summit County Juvenile Detention Center and meeting young teens that face many struggles and making their day brighter by speaking about Israel.
From Students to Seniors
I also got to share one of my biggest passions—music, and especially Israeli music— with students in the religious and Sunday Schools and my beloved friends from The Lippman School, which I’ve met with many times over the last year and together we thank God, it’s Shabbat!
Another great program I participated in was the Be’Tay Avon Café, where even though I was supposed to be the one sharing information about Israel, I felt like I learned more than I taught! Every time I’ve had a conversation with a senior adult from our community, I feel like I’m learning something new, and I’m happy that I shared my young Israeli spirit with your young souls!
At my shaliach programs we discussed various interesting subjects like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Jewish diversity around the world with Laura from Shavei Israel; travelling to North, Central and South Israel in my winter program; watching Israeli movies together; and so much more. What I’ve really enjoyed in these encounters were the conversations with members of the community. Thank you for joining throughout the year; I can’t wait to meet you all again in Israel!
We will also forever remember the two great Yom Ha’Atzmaut and Yom Ha-Zikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day for IDF fallen soldiers and terror victims and Israel’s Independence Day) we had in the community!
Bonding with the Community, Israel
I hope that Mayana and I have helped to strengthen your connection with Israel. I know it was there before, and I’m so happy that it is. As I’ve said so many times over the last two years, the bond between Israel and its citizens to the Jewish people all around the world, and, dare I say, especially in the U.S, is so important and it is one of the strongest assets we have as a nation. We should remember to keep this connection strong and vibrant, and I think the shlichim program is a great way of doing that. This connection helps to better our education and knowledge about each other.
So many people shared great moments with us—travelling, hiking, eating (breakfasts, lunch, dinner, you name it…) and celebrating holidays and joyous occasions together and inviting us into their homes. There’s no way I would be able to explain how welcoming you were as a community and how deeply you made us feel at home. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Mayana and I are so happy to welcome the new couple of shlichim in the community: Uri & Gili Hershkovitz! You will get to know them in the August issue of AJN, and make sure to make them feel at home, like you made us feel. We wish them good luck and sure they’ll do an amazing job!
The Right Place at the Right Time
While writing this article, the Cleveland Cavaliers have already made the Eastern finals. I hope that by the time you read this article, they make the NBA finals, and hopefully will repeat another championship. I got to fulfill an old dream of mine this year, seeing so many basketball games, and I can surely say that I’ve picked the right place, and the right time to be your Israeli shaliach! You could say that Mayana and I were sort of a lucky charm for Ohio, with an NBA championship and a world series under our belt! Can’t do anything about the Browns, though… sorry!
Mayana and I encourage you to visit Israel. If you’ve already been there before, return and see new places and meet new people. If you have never been, now is the time to get your ticket and fly over. You all have two young friends, who can’t wait to welcome you in our home, show you around the places we’ve talked about for the last two years, and hopefully make you all feel as happy as we were, being your community shlichim.
Our time in Akron has come to its end, but it will forever be one that will carry on with us for the rest of our lives. Toda Raba, Mi-Omek Ha-Lev.