Milwaukee Jewish Federation >> Rakefet Ginsberg
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Served from 2006 – 2009
Q: How did being an Israeli emissary in Milwaukee impact your life and career path?
A: Before Schlichut, I saw myself and my family with a strong Israeli identity and that our Judaism was obviously a part of it, but not necessarily a very dominant part. At my work as a social worker and a community worker, I dealt with topics that involved the Israeli society, and even though we visited the synagogue and joined the Reform synagogue where we live in Rosh Ha’Ayin, our involvement in Jewish life globally and in Israel took a very small part in our lives.
Our Schlichut taught us to see ourselves from a new angle. It taught us look at our Israeliness from a different view. To search, explore and study in depth especially in a place where we were “Israelis”. We also learned to know our Judaism; to see that we have more than one or two options of being a Jewish family. To recognize the wealth of Judaism that exists around us and the way that we can live full Jewish life outside the synagogue.
We also got to know our family; our strength as individuals and as a unit. This is what happened when you leave the familiar and move to a different one.
1. Today I am the Deputy Executive Director of the Masoriti Movement in Israel. When I returned from Schlichut, I looked for work would incorporate social work with the Jewish world I Israel and I found my place at the Conservative Movement in Israel. I try to start and develop new conservative communities n Israel.
2. It is hard to choose a few things from an experience so full of strength and power because we have so many wonderful memories. It started with the warm and hearty welcome that was waiting for us when we first arrived and didn’t know anyone thru the first time we saw snowfall. Our friends in the Milwaukee Jewish Federation accepted our excitement with a smile and empathy but promised us that days will come that we will smile less at the sight of snow. After a few months we knew that they were correct. Community events at the Federation and the JCC, activities at The Milwaukee Jewish Day School and different Synagogues. We learned much and met such wonderful people. We shared pleasant and exciting experiences and made many friends that we left behind who will remain our friends long after we have returned home.
While being on Schlichut in Milwaukee, we were lucky to celebrate one of the most important events in our family’s life: the Bar Mitzvah of our first born son , Itamar. Bar Mitzvah is an important family ceremony and before we came we were worried about how will feel it feel to do it far away from home, in an unfamiliar place. It became one of the most meaningful events that we experienced in Milwaukee. Starting with the big hugs from our friends here and from Temple Sinai in order to organize a Bar Mitzvah in the USA, thru teaching and preparation at school and the emotional ceremony at the Synagogue. All of this helped to create a family experience; A joyous and exciting experience that we shared with our new friends that we acquired only a few months prior.
Experiences and wonderful and beautiful memories remain and will stay with us forever. Only three years of Schlichut in Milwaukee, but a very meaningful three years in our life as a family and as individuals.