Community Shlichut Program
The Volunteer Shlichut program, created by the Jewish Agency for Israel, is committed to strengthening Jewish identity and creating a connection between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. The JCC Israeli shlicha (emissary) works directly within the community, with children, students and adults, to impart Jewish heritage and Zionism, to encourage members of the community to visit Israel, to provide the community with a taste of Israel, to organize a wide range of educational activities based on the Jewish calendar cycle, and to represent Israel before the general public.
Tal Benshahar brings Israel to the JCC
JCC’s Third Community Shlicha Arrives in Stamford
Twenty-seven-year-old Tal Benshahar was born and raised in Israel. Currently studying Biomedical Engineering at Ben Gurion University in Beer Shiva, Tal will take a break for a year or two to serve as the Stamford JCC’s new Community Shlicha through the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) Shlichut Program. Shlicha is the Hebrew word for emissary. Through the JAFI program, which sends young adults into the Diaspora to build enduring connections with Israel, Tal will serve a number of community-building functions here in Stamford.
“In evaluating what special role our JCC can play in the Jewish agenda without duplicating services that are already being performed elsewhere in the community, we believe that our special niche is connections,” said JCC CEO Eric Koehler. “Connections between the U.S. and Israel, and American and Israeli Jews. Our intent in bringing Tal here as our JCC Community Shlicha is to demonstrate the best in Israeli culture and society, and to give a taste of what life is like for Israelis trying to live ordinary lives in a very special place.”
While in Stamford, Tal, who succeeds Ayellet Azura in the role, will provide cultural and educational programming, help organize community events, and serve as an envoy for Israel in the Jewish community and the community at large.
“I want to bring you the Israel I know, and try to expose you to some more knowledge and share with you the Israeli way of life from my point of view,” Tal explained. “I also want to learn about the life of Jews outside of Israel; the difficulties and the dilemmas as well as the good, and the beautiful moments in the community. I think that the Shlichut Program is an amazing platform and I wish to do my best to take advantage of it!”
Tal will bring along her best friend, a golden retriever named Simi. She says that serving as a shlicha is “something that I’ve really wished to do for a long time and I’m very happy to have the opportunity. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and to beginning the process.”
“Adam Weiss and Ayellet Azura, our first community shlichim, made a huge impact in this community over the last two years,” Koehler concluded. “It is our hope that in continuing this program we will further our goal of helping to build a lasting bridge of connection to the common destiny of the Jewish people.”