30 Jan Coming Full Circle to St. Paul.
It’s important to me, for every Jew in St. Paul to know that across the ocean, all Jews have a home.
The Jewish Agency for Israel has a sacred mission to bring Jewish people together from around the world. They accomplish this goal in several ways. One way is by sending more than a thousand Israeli emissaries—Shlichim—abroad each year to serve in Jewish institutions in Diaspora communities globally. Another is Partnership2Gether (P2G), a program that connects Jewish cities abroad with various regions in Israel. Both build living bridges to Israel, strengthen Jewish identity, and help promote an understanding of the rich variety of religious expression around the world.
For Tal Dror, it is these programs together that give her purpose and meaning. From a young age, Tal grew up in an area of northern Israel that has a P2G partnership with St. Paul’s Jewish community. When it came time to consider making this partnership into a personal mission, she applied to serve as a shlicha in Minnesota. “It was a great honor that they offered me the chance to be a shlicha in St. Paul. I had heard about the community when I was in school. Now I’m here.” Her history with the St. Paul’s Jewish culture makes her shlichut all the more meaningful. “My shlichut means I’m coming full circle,” says Tal.
Shlichim are hand-selected to represent the best of Israel. Their credentials ensure that any Jewish institution, anywhere, has a staff member who can speak authentically about issues of Zionism and act as an Israeli role model to children and youth. Tal’s P2G backstory with St. Paul factors into her experience in a special way. “Communal life is an integral part of shlichut. The shaliach’s ability to get to know the community and work with it is an important part of their activity,” she shares.“As a Shlicha, I see my role as a bridge between the North American Jewish community and Israel.”
Tal works with Jewish youth groups, teaches Hebrew classes, and even hosts a Hanukkah party for young people at her home. Taking an active role in diverse communal programs and institutions, she aims to authentically educate about Israeli society.
For Tal, that sometimes means speaking on painful and personal topics. “I was in the graduating class of Nadav Raimond, who was killed in Operation Protective Edge,” she says. As personal as that loss is for Tal, she sees it as an important story for the local Jewish community to know. “I am the bridge,” she says. “I bring personal stories about him from his parents and friends, because Israel is built of many personal stories and personal connections.”
As much as she strives to bring the real culture of her home to St. Paul, Tal is a strong believer that there is no substitute for spending time in Israel. She hopes to see more local teenagers make the journey. “The people in the community are hospitable and very warm, and it really is a home away from home, because I am welcomed wonderfully,” she reflects. “It’s important to me, for every Jew in St. Paul to know that across the ocean, all Jews have a home. It’s important to me that they feel that connection.”