So, for those who have already heard about me and for those who haven't,
I am Stav, your community Shlicha (emissary) for the next year (and maybe a little more...). I was sent on behalf of the Jewish Agency and Maccabi World Union to be the bridge between you and the community in Israel, to promote and expose the Jewish Community in the Wood River Valley to various aspects of Israel, Judaism and to create activities for all age groups and many other things, for which you will receive a detailed and orderly explanation later, face to face.
Before I was accepted into the Shlichut program, I studied neuroscience and communication at the Open University in Jerusalem, and before that I also studied a bit of architecture. Since I was12 years old I have been involved in the development of training and education for teenagers:
self-sufficiency, development, the "I" and society, general knowledge, Judaism and Israeliness (no, these words do not always go together and the truth is that they are completely different subjects), environmental and world studies,
when do I put myself in the center and when the group becomes the center, our uniqueness as a People, knowing how to be open to opinions of
people who are different from you and accepting the other, knowing the difference between patience and tolerance, understand the Israeli society to its core and above all - Israeli pride, which is evident in science, high-tech, medicine, groundbreaking developments, and Israel's enormous contribution to all the nations of the world.
When you go on a mission, you take many things with you, and at the same time you leave a lot of them behind, press "pause" for a short time. For me, the biggest challenge was leaving my family behind (only physically of course) and enjoy the upcoming holidays in a distant land. The bond between me and my family is very deep and strong. We are a big family and are very connected to each other
We tell everything, share everything (yes, yes, even the most secret things
which are usually hidden from mom and dad) and when the holidays come, for us it's a peak period. Each of us has a defined role, and at the head of the division of roles stands the great commander – mommy Romi.
About seven days before the holiday, you can feel it everywhere you go - the stores
decorate themselves with beautiful "Sale" signs that catch the eye, the long lines at the supermarket’s checkouts (last year I measured a 23-minute wait until my turn came, and it was a calm day).
The children who return every day with something extra for Rosh Hashanah from the kindergartens and schools, fragrances
of cooking and baking with an intoxicating smell. It even seems that the flowers are more beautiful.
A day and a half before Rosh Hashanah and the kitchen is full of pots, at least four different types of homemade desserts (and this is 100% my defined role), small gifts packed in the corner of the house and a perfect weather.
Vehicle traffic in Israel reaches almost zero from 19:00, a perfect sunset and our favorite people dressed like angels in white... The delicious smells accompany the guests upon entering the house, everything is festive, colorful, happy and bright.
The blessings are done according to the order of sitting at the table and everyone says a blessing in turn (and of course Aya, my 12 years old little sister, will not be able to hold herself back and will almost finish everyone's pomegranate plates).
After the blessings and before we approach the food, we make a round of wishes - everyone says something he wishes himself for the new year.
While eating, there is a feeling that everything is complete and it surrounds you from all sides so much, so that the only thing you feel sorry for is watching the news reporter broadcast on TV instead of being with his family.
You understand how lucky you are, I understand how lucky I am, to have such a big and great family by my side, and we lack nothing when we sit around the holiday table, tap tap! (It is customary to say against the evil eye and this is the second most popular sentence in Israel. The first sentence is – "Come on, who taught you how to drive?!")
So, this year I'm celebrating the holidays a little far from home and with a hand on my heart, it's not easy for my parents. They both love playing tough, but when it comes to the kids they are more emotional than Oprah.
Rosh Hashanah, according to Jewish religion, is the day when humans crown God as king who oversees and examines each person according to his deeds, therefore this day also opens the ten days of searching for answers (aseret yamey tshuva) period, that eventually comes to an end at Yom Kippur, when we have the mitzvah to fast and atone for our actions in front of God, and hope for a "good signature" – Hatima Tova - that God will sign us to a positive judgment as much as possible. That's why it's important to celebrate these days with a lot of intention and having our beloveds around us is always better.
As an Israeli living in our country, I don't have to try so hard to preserve my tradition.
Holiday vacations? The Jewish calendar is anchored in law, and the economy does not work on those days. Kosher food? Almost a default.
When we return from the holidays to the routine (school, work, army, etc.)
we are busy just filling in gaps and getting updated on the friends' experiences from `
The roads are closed on Yom Kippur. Even if you are not fasting, you have nowhere to go.
Everyone is always in a frenzy before the holidays like it is the first holiday they have ever experience, rushing, buy as much as possible – that feeling puts you in the mood of, "Okay, something is happening, stop standing still and start doing something!"
And here? Here you can't feel the Chagim in the streets and Shabbat candles are not on every windowsill.
Judaism and tradition do not envelop us, if we do not make an effort to learn about it at home, it will fade out.
In Israel we have a synagogue almost every five blocks, and abroad it's a different story.
Keeping tradition is a bit mor work.
Keeping the holidays is fun and heartwarming, and more so in Community – but it takes special effort to do so.
To know Hebrew - not obvious (because come on, between us, Spanish is a cooler, sexier and more beautiful language).
To keep our culture, who we are, and know where we came from, keep the tradition
that our ancestors preserved for thousands of years and to know how to appreciate it- it is not obvious, and this issue also applies to Jews in Israel, as there are those who have chosen to distance themselves.
Being Jewish for me is special. It's a right. To be part of a people that has survived since the dawn of history,
And still present, alive, and thriving - this is not obvious.
I will finish with a quote from a song by Shlomo Artzi, one of the most well-known and beloved singers and creators on the Israeli music:
"A person needs to have a word, a little place in the world, an unforgettable love and a true voice for prayer and a perfect moment to give and take and not... to be afraid of fear."
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sergio, Tamar and the three lovely children Rose, Moi, and Lilah, who opened their home for me, continue to take care of me in the smallest details and make me feel the most at home in the world. To Claudie, Rabbi Robbi, Jeff Rose, Morah Dana, and Josh Kleinman for the warm welcome and for the willingness to collaborate with me.
I wish all of us a happy and successful new year, full of light, health, love and joy, success and fulfilling new goals!