Jacksonville Jewish Community welcomes newest Shlicha in Shelly Shalev
BY MATT FRANZBLAU
Last month, the Jacksonville Jewish community said goodbye to its first Shlicha in more than a quarter century, as Dana Marmari went back to Israel following a year of stellar service in Northeast Florida. This month, we welcome the arrival of a new shlicha in Ashdod native Shelly Shalev, who comes to the Sunshine State from Tel Aviv where she was previously working as a dental assistant at a private clinic there.
The 27-year old graduated from Open University in Tel Aviv where she studied political science and international relations and now she is ready to transition from working on smiles in the Middle East to making people smile in the Southeast with her love of all things Israel and Judaism. Below are some answers to questions the JJN posed to her prior to her arrival in addition to some fun facts about Jacksonville’s newest import. Look forward to getting to know Shelly better through her monthly Shlicha Corner columns in the Jacksonville Jewish News and of course from events in and around the community.
Jacksonville Jewish News: What are you looking forward to most in coming to Jacksonville and working within the Jewish community here?
Shelly Shalev: “The thing that I’m most excited about is meeting each and everyone from the community and to bring Israel and Judaism as I know it to them. In addition to experiencing Jewish life in Jacksonville, together we will learn more about our shared heritage and by doing so we will keep Judaism and Israel in our hearts. I believe there are so many great things we can accomplish together as a Jewish community.
JJN: Where are you from in Israel and what do you do currently?
SS: “I’m from Ashdod city, which is about a 25 min drive south of Tel Aviv and up until now I was working as a dental assistant at a private clinic in Tel Aviv.”
JJN: Have you ever been to the U.S. before and if so what were the circumstances of your experiences?
SS: “Yes I visited my cousin who lives in Los Angeles when I was living in Mexico, and I also visited Las Vegas. I remember seeing Leonardo DiCaprio one day at the Beverly Hills Mall and it made my American experience so real, seeing such a huge superstar and not through the screen. I have very good memories from that trip to the U.S. with my cousin.”
JJN: What made you want to take on this role and leave your life in Israel for a year or two to become a Shlicha here in the United States?
SS: “As a young teen, I remember always being so fascinated by Judaism and the connection of Jews around the world. Living abroad, I loved advocating on behalf of Israel and knew in my heart that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I went ahead and studied political science and international relations.”
“I think that being a Shlicha is the exact term for this job, because it is something that you do from the inside of your heart. Here in Israeli diplomacy we call it the ‘Hasbara’ bug just like the acting bug, this is where I want to be and to make a difference.”
JJN: What is one thing you want to teach or share with American Jews about Israel that they might not otherwise know?
SS: “There is so much to share but I think one thing I want to tell the community is about my Israeli narrative, living in Ashdod and working in Tel Aviv. This would show the community the beautiful side of Israel with the complexity of living here, in one of Hamas’s favorite bombing spots.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU FUN QUESTIONS
“I’m a vegetarian so I love a good rich salad, I also love chocolate and lots of it lol”
Favorite singer or song
“I listen to everything from classical music to hip hop, but my favorite song of all time will have to be “sof kol yom” (the end of each day) by Mosh Ben Ari, it’s a beautiful ballad.”
Favorite vacation spot
“Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I lived there for half a year, so beautiful!”
Number of counties you've visited
Last movie you saw in the theater
“Wonder Woman with the amazing Gal Gadot”
Last book you read or one you're reading currently
“I’m currently reading “The man that didn’t want to be little” by Ilan Heitner.”
Where you get your news
“Everywhere, I know how important it is to keep up with every channel news especially here in Israel, I get it from “Haaretz” and “arutz 2” and at the same time “Rotter” and “arutz 7” news, I love to see all kinds of opinions on the matters of the world.”
Social media site/app you spend the most time using
“WhatsApp, which I hear is not that common in the states.”
What you do in your spare time to unwind
“I love to go for walks and meditate at the beach which is something I do weekly. I love traveling and experiencing nature, and I also love spending time with friends and family.”
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I can totally rap! I even have some cover songs recorded with my best friend.”
Quote you live by
“veahavta lereacha kamocha - Rabbi Akiva’s quote which means you should love your neighbor as you love yourself, because I believe that we always have to spread our love and treat each other like we want to be treated.”