Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Emissary of Israeli Culture Thinks Young

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Emissary of Israeli Culture Thinks Young

Article excerpt

TENAFLY -- A few months ago, Keren Glick was a sniper instructor for the Israel Defense Forces. These days her challenges are entirely different: The 21-year-old is aiming to build stronger connections between North Jersey and Israel.

As a shaliach, or emissary, sent by the Jewish Agency of Israel, she is an ambassador of Israeli culture. She hopes to show New Jerseyans there is more to Israel than the violence they hear about on the news.

"The goal is to strengthen bonds to Israel," Glick said. "I love the interest I'm getting from people. They ask me where my accent is from. This is fun for me."

A shaliach is a trained leader who has completed national service in Israel, speaks English and is prepared to build relationships with Americans, said Ariella Feldman, director of Shlichut Initiatives.

The Jewish Agency sent three emissaries to North Jersey in 2012: Glick is based in Tenafly at the JCC on the Palisades. Another is in Fair Lawn, and the third is at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey in Paramus.

This year the Jewish Agency sent more emissaries to North America than ever before -- 249 to communities and more than 1,000 to summer camps -- who teach, lecture and work with people of all ages, Feldman said.

"They are young, hip and energetic. This program is the next best thing to bringing Israel here," Feldman said. "We try to strengthen a connection to Israel for teens who don't necessarily understand where Israel fits into their life."

Glick will spend most of her time at the JCC, lecturing and running holiday events and working with teens. She will organize leadership programs and run an Israeli Scout program, Tzofim, filled with the children of Israeli immigrants who want their offspring to retain their Hebrew.

"The value of this job is that I'm a source that's knowledgeable about Israel," Glick said. "I bring a totally different perspective because it's that of a young person. A program run by a kid for kids is going to be more exciting for them."

Which is how she found herself collecting food for superstorm Sandy victims and talking to teens about responsibility recently. …

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