Jacksonville to welcome its first Israeli emissary in quarter century to community
BY MATT FRANZBLAU
This month a new friendly face will be recognizable in the Jacksonville Jewish community as Dana (pronounced Donna) Marmari will be coming to the First Coast as its first Israel emissary in more than a quarter of a century. Marmari, a 26-year old social worker from Kfar Saba, Israel is being brought to Jacksonville through a partnership of Federation and the JCA, along with a generous donation from Federation board members Iris and Mark Kraemer, which made this venture financially feasible.
Through the Jewish Agency, Shlichim come to many communities in North America each year,” explained Federation Executive Director Alan Margolies. “As a result of a generous gift from Mark and Iris Kraemer, made in memory of Mark’s father Walter, this has become a reality.”
The idea to bring an Israeli intern to Jacksonville was born out of the suggestion of Jewish Community Alliance Executive Director Myron Flager, who planted the seed with Federation at a most opportune time of year.
“During the past two years of allocations, Myron came to Federation and urged us that together with the JCA, we should bring a representative of Israel to our Jewish community,” Margolies recalled.
“I did that because I thought it was important for the people of our community to understand that as wonderful as we are, there is a piece missing,” Flager explained of his motivations.
That piece of the diverse and vibrant puzzle that makes of Jewish Jacksonville will arrive in August in hopes of adding yet another component to the community, which will make Israel more real for people in Northeast Florida.
“We had this vision that if we could have a Shlicha build amazing relationships within our community, then Israel could be brought to life and to the masses,” Flagler added.
Marmari will be working collaboratively with Jewish organizations, agencies, day schools, and synagogues in the community, in addition to contributing significantly to the JCA and Federation on a daily basis.
“While housed in the Federation’s offices, Dana will be supervised by staff at the JCA, including Myron and Jewish and Family outreach Coordinator Dave Flagler,” Margolies explained. “That partnership is another example of the richness of the relationship between our two organizations,” he added.
That richness will only go toward benefiting the Jacksonville Jewish community as its new Shlicha will no doubt enrich the many lives touched by Jewish agencies and organizations here in Northeast Florida.
“Dana will act as a resource, tremendously impacting those organizations and their people, because she will teach them to take what they are doing and put an Israeli lens on it,” Flagler explained of her important role in the community she will soon call home.
“The menu of opportunities that await her in our Jewish community cover a vast array of possibilities, and we’re confident she’s going to make a difference with the various groups and programs she works with,” Margolies said, backing up his colleague’s sentiments.
Some of the specialty programming Marmari might have her hand in include the JCA’s book and Israeli Film Festivals, in addition to Yom Ha’Atzmut and Yom Ha Zikaron.
The fact that the JCA and Federation are able to collaborate in such a way around the Shlicha and share this resource with the entire community is amazing,” Flagler said of this unique partnership.
In another amazing twist, both Margolies and Flagler had the benefit of meeting Marmari in person during their JCA and Federation joint journey to Israel this past spring.
“Alan and I met her in Israel, spending the better part of a day with her and she is a very bright and articulate young lady,” Flagler recalled of their interactions. “She works with people who have challenges, so you know she has a real caring personality and an empathy for people.”
Jacksonville’s new Israeli emissary will be in the community for at least a year, with the option for her to stay on and continue her work for a second tour. For more information on Shlichim and all that they do, log onto jewishagency.org/shlichim.