THE ACT Jewish community has this month welcomed two shlichim from Israel, marking a first for the capital.
Raz Sofer and Rotem Dvir, a young married couple, will be in Canberra for a year-long shlichut, where they are set to engage with all sections of the community.
“It’s a bit chilly but we’ve had a very warm welcome,” Sofer told The AJN. “We are very happy and excited to be here.”
The pair said they were attracted to the opportunity for a number of reasons, including the diversity of Canberra’s Jewish community, comprising various streams of Judaism. “It’s a very pluralist community,” Sofer enthused.
Sofer, from Rishon Letzion, has worked across a number of social organisations trying to develop entrepreneurship and leadership among the social periphery of Israel. Dvir, who is originally from a small town in the north of Israel, was an art teacher, and has worked both with young children and at-risk teenagers. They are hopeful that their experiences at home will enhance their work in Canberra.
During their shlichut, Sofer and Dvir will seek to impart the “values of modern Zionism” through formal and informal Jewish education. They are particularly interested in working with teenagers and young adults, as well as developing and strengthening Canberra’s sense of community.
The pair come as representatives of the Jewish Agency for Israel through the Zionist Federation of Australia.
“We are really grateful to those organisations for the privilege to be here,” Sofer said.
The decision to bring shlichim to Canberra is part of a wider push to improve the quality of Jewish life in the ACT. The community is attempting to raise more than $6 million in a national capital appeal to renovate and expand the ACT Jewish community centre.
“For the ACT Jewish Community to reach the point where there is growth and momentum allowing us the opportunity to engage in full time shlichim is an incredible feat,” Rabbi Alon Meltzer of the ACT Jewish Community Inc. said.
“Our educational model provides a multi-faceted program that allows all ages to engage in learning our culture and language.
“Raz and Rotem are a fantastic addition and are already making their mark – they are innovative, driven, and professional – the exact qualities we as a community try to emulate.”