1) You visited in November for the Reverse Mifgash program which brings Israelis to DC for a Reverse Birthright experience. What brings you back?
I’m here in order to visit my friends. During the Reverse Mifgash, I found a new family. I now have a new community that I don’t have in Israel. I feel like the DC Jewish community is my second family so it was important for me to come back. It’s a place where I feel at home.
2) We hear you’re moving to Pennsylvania. What will you be doing there?
I am going to be a shaliach in the Jewish community of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania through the Jewish Agency. I’ll be doing educational and cultural programming about Israel, Zionism, and Judaism for a year. Every shaliach can choose how to explain Israel so everyone has their own points of view. I will be illustrating Israel through the performing arts and music. I started this journey with the Agency thanks to the Reverse Mifgash.
3) How are Israelis different from Americans?
There are so many different things. Having a second Passover seder and a second Rosh Hashana dinner is something we don’t do in Israel. The most popular holiday in America is Hanukkah because it’s usually right near Christmas and you have days off around that time. Our most popular holiday is Passover because we have the longest vacation and everything changes because all of the supermarkets have matzah and you will not find bread anywhere. You feel that Passover is coming much more than any other holiday. It’s very family-oriented. In Israel, you don’t have to show that you are Jewish. You don’t have to prove it because you were born there, your mom is Jewish, you serve in the army and everyone knows that you’re Jewish. In some ways you have to prove it more here-you have to go to synagogue, you take special days off of work because you’re not necessarily given them for holidays, and you go to Shabbat dinners. We just have dinners with our family and it’s not ceremonial. I wish we could have what you have instead of just assuming that you’re Jewish.
4) How will you be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut?
I celebrated last week in Israel. It’s funny that you’re celebrating it while I’m here now. We have lots of shows; every city brings performers on stages that they build in the middle of the street and we have street parties. We go to different cities to see the performers. Everyone is dancing and partying. It’s more of a younger holiday and everyone parties all night. The elder people like my parents stay home and watch TV-there is a great ceremony in Mount Herzl and everyone is so proud and happy. I’ll be going to Yom Ha’atzmaut here in DC at the JCC on Sunday. I will be wearing a headband with Israeli flags that everyone wears in Israel-look for me!
5) You’ve spent 4 years in the Israeli army. Tell us about it.
I completed my two mandatory years and I’m just about to finish my second year of service beyond that. In the Israeli air force (no, I’m not a pilot!) I work with pilots and I make sure that they have everything they need before they go on a mission. I believe it is a great service to my country and this is my way of showing Zionism. I am continuing my Zionism through my work with the Jewish agency when I will be a shaliach in Pennsylvania and show them Israel through my eyes.