Israeli emissary Tslil Reichman says le’hitraot

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I can’t believe it really is time to say le’hitraot (not goodbye, just see you soon).

Two years ago, I left everything I knew behind to embark on a journey to an unknown place called Rhode Island. I had so many questions, fears, dreams.

When I arrived in Providence, I was completely in shock, not sure what to expect or what exactly I was thinking moving thousands of miles away from my family, my friends and my mom’s cooking.

I’ll be honest, the beginning was not easy for me – I was just out of college, so far away from home, with a foreign language and a whole new culture to get used to.

The main thing that helped me get through it all was this community: you have all made my time in Rhode Island amazing. While I didn’t know what to expect before coming here, this experience has exceeded anything I could have imagined.

As part of my position as Israeli emissary, I have had the opportunity to work with many organizations in the community: Day schools, Hebrew schools, synagogues and so many other places and groups that have welcomed me. I’ve had the opportunity to talk about my family, my family’s history, culture, food and issues that are very close to my heart.

But the content and the topics were only the frame; the valuable part of it all has been the special relationships and connections that were created – which I will forever cherish.

I’ve been able to share a little bit of my home and myself, and I will take so much back to Israel. The people and the organizations I was fortunate enough to collaborate with were nothing but the best. And time and time again, I have witnessed the friendship and the support you give Israel daily. The way in which this community supports the shlichut program and allows Israel to be such a tremendous part of your daily life is amazing to me.

It is hard to believe how quickly time went by, so many programs, conversations, experiences, friendships. I feel so privileged to have been part of the Rhode Island Jewish community for the past two years – and so grateful for all of you who allowed that.  

Although I came to teach and to bring Israel to you, you have given me much more than I could have hoped for. My time here has been among the most meaningful experiences in my life. So many of you opened your hearts and homes to me. Shabbat dinners, weekend trips, great food and amazing company, checking in or offering soup when I was sick at home (or just homesick), and even making sure I was OK during the too-many snowstorms we’ve had. For all that, I will always be grateful.  

As I write, this week is my last at the Jewish Alliance. Next week, I will move to Camp JORI for another amazing summer before I fly home at the end of August.

I return to Israel with mixed emotions, knowing that I’m going back home but also leaving home. I will carry my time in Rhode Island and each of you in my heart always. Thank you for allowing me into the Rhode Island family and for just being the best community in the world. This is definitely not goodbye. I look forward to seeing you all when you come to Israel and when I return to Rhode Island to visit.

TSLIL REICHMAN has been the Israeli emissary (shlichah) at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island since August 2016. She returns to Israel this August.