Finding a Home Away from Home

Finding a Home Away from Home
When Nina and her family chose to be Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) for three years, Nina was adamant it be a family decision.

She knew leaving her relatives behind in Israel, including both sets of grandparents, would be difficult for her two young daughters, Ella, 4, and Na’ama, 2, as well as her husband Omer. And while the first few months after arriving in Detroit for their Shlichut was hard, and her daughters still miss their grandparents, she’s confident that coming to America was the right path.

“Our experience has been nothing less than amazing. Detroit is such a wonderful community, and even though it’s large, with about 71,000 Jews, it’s very close-knit; we are one big family,” says Nina. “They welcomed us with open arms.”

Nina and her family have already been serving in Detroit for two years; their third and last year there will begin in August. During that time, much has changed. Her two daughters, now 6 and 4, have gained a wonderful Jewish education that Nina feels they wouldn’t have received in Israel. She also feels their time in the Diaspora has made them more open-minded and adaptable.

“Our experience has been nothing less than amazing. Detroit is such a wonderful community, and even though it’s large, with about 71,000 Jews, it’s very close-knit; we are one big family.

A select group of outstanding emissaries, The Jewish Agency for Israel's Shlichim are called to manifest our collective heritage in communities around the world. They provide a living connection to Israel by promoting Israeli experiences, facilitating Jewish social activism, and speaking authentically about faith and culture.

The biggest change of all though has been the expansion of their family as their son was born in March. Going through pregnancy and having her third child in America was a very different experience than what Nina remembers from carrying her two daughters in Israel.

“As an emissary, having a baby here… it gives another dimension to my service in the Detroit community. We had a baby naming ceremony for our son, Eshel, which we wouldn’t have done in Israel. But here, everyone was asking us about it so we decided to have one to celebrate with the community and it was incredibly emotional and moving,” said Nina.

The Detroit community also stepped up for Nina and her family when Omer went out of town for nearly three weeks just a month after the baby was born.

“Someone told me that in America, there’s a website called Mealtrain. And people can sign up to help out with meals, with laundry, with carpool… And so while Omer was away, the community really took care of us. They showed me that it takes a village and I was lucky enough to have a village that was so sweet and giving,” recalls Nina.

Though Nina will be happy to return to their home in Tzur Yitzhak, Israel, next year, she will miss the Detroit community and cherishes the time she’s spent in America.

“We take certain things for granted in Israel; here, you have to make an effort to be Jewish. Being away from Israel made me realize that sometimes it’s good to miss something so you know how deeply you love it. Israel will always be our home, but Detroit has also been a home to us, and is a city that will always have a special place in our hearts.”

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