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Yasmin Drescher, Shlicha

Yasmin Drescher, Agudas Achim’s shlicha, (emissary from Israel) arrives in Northern Virginia from army service in Israel.

Yasmin grew up in a multi-lingual and multi- cultural family. Until she was 12, Yasmin lived in West Hartford, Connecticut, moving back and forth to Israel several times before her family made aliyah to Ra'anana, Israel, 10 years ago. “It was a challenge to move to a new country and make new friends, but I think being from two cultures has helped form my identity,” she says.

Yasmin’s family includes her older sister, Atalya, 25, who works in high tech and got married at the beginning of September; and a younger brother, Avshalom, 19, a soldier. Her dad, a Pittsburgh native, is head of emergency medicine at a hospital in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, and her mom, an Israeli, has a non-profit organization dealing with building community. “At home we speak Hebrew and English. One of the hardest things for me will be leaving my family and friends,” notes Yasmin.

After graduating from high school in 2016, where she studied film and biology, Yasmin spent a gap year in Mechinat Gal, a program to help young people prepare for army service and life. She lived in Haifa with 30 friends, taking enrichment classes and volunteering. She spent time with kids from diverse backgrounds helping them with their homework, playing games, and learning about Jewish holidays. She visited senior citizens in their homes, talking with them and helping them write their life stories.

After Yasmin was tested for the army, she was assigned to an intelligence unit where she worked as an Arabic translator. “In the army I learned the value of friendships and being able to depend on others. It also taught me to do things I didn’t like to do,” she observes. As her army service was ending, Yasmin began to think about her next step and decided to do something new. She thought being a shlicha would fit in well with her values. “I wanted to bring Israel to others abroad,” Yasmin recalls.

Yasmin took part in group and individual testing and interviews before she was accepted into the shlichut program. “I represent the Jewish Agency that works with the Jewish Federation in America. I am not a representative of the state of Israel,” she explains. Since leaving the army, she has participated in almost daily training programs on Zoom before flying to Agudas Achim.

Yasmin has a lot of ideas for the coming months. She hopes to teach our students songs and stories in Hebrew. She wants to view and discuss Israeli films. She would also like to use Zoom to connect Israeli communities with ours in Alexandria. “I am so excited to meet everyone and make strong connections at Agudas Achim. I also want to find out what your congregation expects from me,” says Yasmin.

By Carol Backman - September 2020

Sun, September 27 2020 9 Tishrei 5781