“Why go out on shlichut?” asked Shiran and Yoni Dreyer, an OTS-trained educator couple recently placed in Omaha, Nebraska. “That’s a question we found ourselves pondering often over the course of our training.
“Every generation has its challenge, every generation needs people with vision and ideology, people who will act, do and aspire for good,” they said. “In the generation of our great grandparents, it was to establish a state, to fight physically for the Land of Israel and for the people of Israel. In the generation of our parents it was the establishment of communities, to ‘make the wilderness bloom,’ establish businesses and help Israel flourish. We believe that the mission of our generation is to preserve and strengthen Jewish Identity and tradition, in Israel and all over the world.”
The Dreyers were amongst the newest crop of 46 graduates of OTS’s emissary-training programs trickled out of Israel over the course of the summer, heading toward their new, adoptive communities all over the world.
“Our shlichim serve around the globe out of a sense of devotion, based on the principle that we have a responsibility to the Jewish people wherever they are. It doesn’t matter if the community is large or small, if it’s in central Manhattan or in a province of China. Each Jewish community deserves the attention and service of our rabbis and educators,” says Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein, director of training and placement for the emissary programs.
“In several locations around the world, the community’s experience with the OTS emissaries is so positive over the year that they turn to us to send additional couples,” reports Grunstein.
One example of this is the Abebe family, who were greeted by last year’s graduates Yaakov and Merav Waks upon arrival in New Jersey in early August.
“I remember very well the shlichim from the Jewish Agency who came when we were still in Ethiopia, and especially the sight of the Israeli flag they held in their hands,” said Aviv Abebe who, along with his wife Adi, will be teaching in the Ben Porat Yosef school in Paramus, NJ. “The connection with Jews in the Diaspora is very important to me. I feel an obligation to faithfully represent the State of Israel that I love so much.”
The most recent couple to leave Israel, Rabbi Yaakov and Michal Seruya, headed further south to Yaakov’s childhood home in Belem, Brazil, on the banks of the Amazon river, where he will serve as the rabbi of Shaar Hashamayim, the first synagogue established in Belem in 1824. The couple will also work with youth and serve as the representatives of World Bnei Akiva in the region.
The Jewish community of Belem speaks a local Jewish dialect melding Spanish, Ladino, Hebrew and Moroccan Arabic. In fact, OTS emissaries are, all together, also fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Yiddish, Arabic, Romanian, Dutch, Amharic, Chinese, Greek, Ukranian, Persian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Flemish, Finnish, English and Hebrew.
Rabbi Aharon and Hodaya Lemberger recently exchanged the sweltering August heat of Israel with the cool breezes of Scotland, where they will be serving as the rabbinical couple for the University of Scotland’s campuses, based in Glasgow.
Just before boarding the airplane, Hodaya shared with her peers a special prayer that she wrote:
Master of the universe, we are embarking upon shlichut out of a sense of mission and responsibility to our Jewish brethren around the world. – “Et achai anochi mevakesh – I am seeking my brothers.”
We do not know what will be ahead.
We do not know the difficulties and challenges we have yet to face.
We do not yet know and understand the souls of your children, your flock, to whom we are setting out.
But one thing we do have in our possession: faith.
Make us worthy of your mission, empty us of all pride, restrictions and flaws. Fill us with great humility with regard to your people of Israel in the Diaspora.
Give us the ability to see the good and the positive wherever we go.
Give us the power to see and understand those who are thirsty or lacking.
Give us the wisdom and understanding to grow closer to each Jew we meet, wherever he may be physically or spiritually, and to bring him closer. Open our eyes to see even the most alienated and remote and to look inside.
Grant us also the wisdom to stay away when necessary…
That we should know and understand the needs of the place to which we go and the needs of the hour, and that we shall act according to your will at the right place and time.
We leave our holy land on this, your mission; sanctify us with the blessing that You will remain in our home, in our children and in our deeds, as well.
Be with us every step of the way and with every pace, grant us a good and honest mind, watch over your people of Israel in our holy land and outside of it.
Fill our hearts so that we may worship you truly and fully, and made us worthy tools for your mission.