Dave Bender

“Shlichut definitely gave me a push in my career”

"I grew up in Russia, and came to Israel when I was 16 on The Jewish Agency's Na'ale program.In 2004, I became one of the first Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel. On campus, I quickly discovered that when students heard "Israel," they thought only of the conflict.

I saw it as my mission to educate Jews and non-Jews alike. I went as an Israeli, explaining Israeli culture, food, lifestyles, and most importantly political and foreign policies".


What did you gain from being a shaliach?

I became so sure as to how Jewish I am because I live in Israel, I fought in the Jewish army, I speak the Jewish language, every day, every minute, I think in it, and I live Jewish life. I am part of the largest Jewish project for the last 2,000 years. This awareness was a big boost for me—as a man, as a Jew, as an Israeli.

I made Aliyah by choice

When I returned from my shlichut on Brooklyn College, I was aware that I was making Aliyah this time by choice. I wasn't coming to Israel as a 16 year old boy on a program, not understanding exactly what Israel or Jewishness was—but as an educated adult, who spoke many languages, and had offers to work and live abroad. And I knew exactly what I was doing, and what I was choosing. This time, I made Aliyah to home.