In 2012, to ensure Israel has a significant and constant presence at BJ, the community partnered with UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Agency for Israel to create a pilot program, the first shlihut to be embedded in a synagogue. A Department of Israel Engagement was established directed by the shliha in order to envision, develop, and implement strong engaging and sustainable strategies and programs for Israel to be an integrated and integral component of B’nai Jeshurun.
A shaliah (m) or shliha (f) can be literally translated as an emissary or messenger. In Jewish history, shlihim were the messengers who traveled between the land of Israel and Jewish communities after the destruction of the Second Temple in AD70. This role continued until the 19th century and fulfilled two roles. First, shlihim made the Jews in the diaspora an active part of building a community in Zion by collecting donations to support those settling the land. They also trained Jewish communities on questions of morality, halakhah and customs, settled disputes and brought news from the land of Israel. The shaliah had extensive training in Torah, as well as the high moral standing as someone living in the Holy Land, which allowed him to fill the above position.
The next phase of shlichut came with the inception of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century. The shlichim of the early Zionist movement served to help young people realize the ideal of settling the land. Shlichim were leaders in their youth movements and carried a message and a mission to their friends in the diaspora.
At the end of the World War II, a shlihim committee was established by the National Institutions–the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, the Keren Hayesod and the Keren Kayemet–with immigration to Israel and Zionist education at its heart. Its shlihim were youth movement workers who helped arrange the rescue and immigration of many Jews to Israel. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the shlihut department as we know it today was created.
Shlichut is a unique phenomenon. Israelis of different backgrounds, ages and professions are sent to a Jewish community in the diaspora for a few years in order to engage in educational and communal activity, with Israel at its core. The priorities of aliyah and rescue have been supplemented and replaced (depending on the community) with Israel engagement, support of local Israel programing and creating a human bridge between Israel and other Jewish communities. The shlihut is one of the most interesting, as well as complex, manifestations of the unique relation between the State of Israel and the Jewish diaspora. The shaliah, often working in a foreign language and a new culture, partners with host communities in the critical work of forging meaningful and sustained relations between the community and Israel.
Moshe Samuels (2015-2019)
Moshe Samuels is an accomplished Jewish educator who has previously served as a community emissary of the Jewish Agency in Birmingham, Alabama; an Israel fellow at the University of Western Ontario; a delegation head to Camp Ramah in Canada; and as the Educational Director of the Masorti (Conservative) youth movement in Israel. Moshe recently served as the Director of ‘Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa’, a service-learning Masa program, spearheading the field of Jewish peoplehood and leadership training. Inspired by his own personal journey and committed to impacting members of the Jewish “tribe”, Moshe founded The Wandering Jew, through which he aspires to develop the most innovative and personalized materials in the field of Jewish education today.
Orli Moss (2012-2015)
Orli has worked for the United Joint Israel Appeal, served as Director of the Raphael Recanati International School at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya and directed the Shnat Netzer program for gap year students active in the Reform Zionist youth movement from Australia, South Africa and Britain. She holds a BA (Hons) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has studied for an MA from Machon Schechter in Jerusalem. Having grown up in the Conservative Movement in Israel in its early years Orli worked at developing the Noam youth movement and is committed to being an active liberal Jew and educating to tolerance and acceptance of the other. She currently lives in New York with her husband and three children.