Yael Lewis arrived in Westchester about 3 weeks ago to join the shlichut (Israel emissary) initiative.Her head may still be spinning, but she has jumped straight into the deep end- running around the community to get to know everyone! If you have yet to meet Yael in person, here is what she had to say straight off the boat:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am not your “typical” Shlicha. I grew up in San Diego, California and made Aliyah to Israel at the age of 17. In Israel, I served in the army as a fitness instructor. Following my service I traveled and worked in various locations, before I started my a bachelor’s degree in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Israel.
I love learning languages and topics related to Jews and Israel, of course. I love travelling, sports such as tennis, swimming, and running. I love meeting new people and creating new networks of people.
Why did you want to come serve as a shlicha in Westchester?
First of all, I love the Jewish people and State of Israel. By being here, I hope to build stronger connections within and between the Jewish communities in Westchester, as well as with Israel. I hope to raise the level of debate and discussion within the community and create deeper understanding of the Jewish communities’ connection and relationship to Israel.
Since you made aliyah, what has been your most powerful “Israel moment”?
Finishing the Masa Kumpta (Beret Ceremony) with the Nachal Brigade at Masada. This is a long and arduous 50 km march, marking the end of a combat soldier’s’ basic training. This was the day I saw the young soldiers I had partially trained for seven months finish their basic training and move to the “real” work – guarding Israel’s borders (Gaza, Northern Lebanon border and the West Bank). It is an amazing thing to see the boys who join the army at the age of eighteen finish this seven month period and become men. They come in complaining about missing their mother’s cooking, and leave ready to defend the Land of Israel.
What has been your funniest “Israel moment”?
The time, after just arriving to Israel, when for the life of me I couldn’t understand how the word “סופרפרם” (transliterated = SUPERFARM) was read. Someone had to tell me that it was actually an English word.
What are you hoping to achieve in Westchester over the coming year?
I hope to raise the level of awareness in the community and bring another Israeli perspective to the discussion, in order to better understand the diversity, complexity and beauty of Israel and its citizens. I hope to bring Israel as a complex, yet unifying force to the Westchester Jewish community.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Travelling; Learning new languages; Sport; Socializing!
The Westchester Community Shaliach (emissary) initiative is a county-wide program coordinated by the Rosenthal JCC and the Westchester Jewish Council with support from UJA-Federation of New York, Hilllels of Westchester and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), along with the generosity of Carol and Michael Lowenstein, the Adnim Foundation and the Nedivot Venture Philanthropy Fund of UJA-Federation.