Our Wonderful New Shlicha
Our wonderful new shlicha, Ofir, arrived on Friday, August 19. She is from Israel and has met a lot of welcoming people who’ve been inviting her to their homes for dinner. She spent her first couple of weeks getting accustomed to driving in the Mobile. Patricia S. is helping her get acquainted with the area and members of the Temple. (Another supervisor, Shoshanna, returns to Mobile from India on Monday, September 5.) Ofir came to the Springhill Avenue Temple Hebrew School and taught a class. She likes to thank the Mobile Area Jewish Federation for bringing her to Mobile. Before she was invited to Mobile, she had never even heard of the city or knew where it was on the map. Upon receiving her invitation, she said “Why not? I should try a new place.” She started listening to songs about Alabama in order to become familiar with the area. She particularly likes the Neil Young song, “Alabama.” She’s been trying new foods here in Mobile. She is already accustomed to the weather, which she describes as the same as Israel--hot and humid. She has started using the word “y’all” in conversations, but has had a more difficult time getting used to our Southern accents. She hopes that by the end of the year she will be able to use the accent herself. Overall, she says that she didn’t know what to expect before embarking on her journey to Mobile: “It’s a larger city than I’m used to. I’m used to smaller towns and cities in Israel.”
A week before she arrived in Mobile, Ofir graduated from Tel Hai Academic College in Israel--her home for the past three years. Ofir studied social work at the college. “I loved it, but that part of my life is over now and I’m excited to move on to new things.” Ofir was very engaged in her college program: “I had to do an internship during college. I worked with kids, the elderly, and at a center at the college for students with learning disabilities. On some weekends, I also worked at a nature reserve not far from the college. The college was in a beautiful area of the country, and I spent my little bit of free time at a nearby river enjoying nature. I fell in love with that area.”
Alabama is not the first exotic land for Ofir to visit. She traveled to Nepal in Southeast Asia for a few months before returning to Israel. She found a second job in order to save more money to travel. She took another trip to the Central American countries of Guatemala and Belize. One of her jobs she took to save money for traveling was with the Reform Movement in Israel. Ofir worked on a program called NFTY at EIE High School in Israel. There, she was exposed to Reform Judaism.
While Ofir loves to travel, she admits there are some drawbacks: “Being away from family and friends is hard, but it is manageable thanks to technology. Facebook and email make it easier to stay in touch. But overall, I’m having a great time in Mobile.”