Ayala (Shapira) and Eliran Shabo
Eliran Shebo is serving as Deputy Rabbi while Ayala (Shapira) Shebo is a teacher as well as being responsible for community projects in the Jewish community of Athens, Greece. The couple was the first to go out on shlichut from last year’s crop of graduates (because of COVID); they have been in Athens for about half a year.
Tell us about the community you’re in:
Eliran serves as a deputy rabbi and Ayala is a teacher and in charge of community projects. The Athens community is an ancient community, dating back to the Second Temple period, and therefore has unique and interesting traditions. The community has a kindergarten and an elementary school and then continues as a group to a local school, where Jewish students have Hebrew and afternoon Jewish studies. The community numbers about 3,000 members of all ages, from kindergarten to senior citizens in the nursing home.
What did you receive from the Straus-Amiel Educational Emissary Training Progam and the Claudia Cohen Women Educator Institute?
Beyond the extensive acquaintance with Diaspora Jewry that helped us to arrive prepared and not be surprised by foreign experiences for the average Israeli, we also receive ongoing, enveloping support in the field, which helps tremendously in the day-to-day activities. Also incredibly helpful is the networking we have with the other shlichim in the field, exchanging ideas and mutual support.
What message would you like to impart regarding shlichut?
Although the Athens community is an active and cohesive community, community leaders still wanted a family of shlichim to add to the communal atmosphere. Sometimes, just the visibility of a religious family and children running around the synagogue and community offices contributes to Jewish identity and a sense of belonging even more than a dvar Torah. When you succeed in representing Judaism in everyday life, the interest in Judaism increases, as does the connection.