By Michelle Cohen
This fall, a new shlicha – Israeli emissary – will join the Lehigh Valley Jewish community in honor of Israel’s 70th birthday. From community events to educational opportunities, Rotem Bar will be leading a variety of activities to help bring Israel to the Lehigh Valley.
Bar, who is 25 years old, lived in Belgium as a child and attended international schools, where she was often associated with her nationality and loved sharing stories about Israel. This passion translated into a job as a counselor at a youth moshav and, later, a summer camp shlicha at a JCC camp in Rhode Island. She has also traveled to the United States before as a flight attendant working for EL AL.
Now working at the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and helping refugees, Bar is looking forward to spending a year in the Lehigh Valley, where her primary objective will be sharing Israeli culture. “Being able to take a part in achieving that would make me feel like I’m a part of something bigger,” she wrote on her application to the program.
In the Lehigh Valley, Bar hopes to find “a community that allows me to express Israel through my eyes and experiences,” particularly the positive areas of Israeli society that are not usually covered in the media.
“I would like to show the high tech, innovative, vibrant, colorful and happy Israel,” she added. “The country that reaches out to other countries in need, the country that can make us frustrated at times, but also very proud, amazed and grateful at others. The country that makes us appreciate and respect our Jewish heritage.”
Bar will be working with the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley and other community agencies and synagogues on a variety of programs. “I want the community to know that I am going into this experience with an open mind,” Bar wrote. “I have the will and desire to bring the most out of the shlichut, build bridges, teach and learn.”
The community shlichut program is a partnership between the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Agency for Israel and made possible in our community through the support of Lewis and Roberta Gaines.