Oshra Rosenberg realized her goal of becoming a shlicha in the United States in August of 2016. Born in Ramat HaSharon, Israel, Rosenberg decided to be a shlicha after spending a summer as a counselor at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in 2001.
She noted, “Since that summer I knew that I wanted to come back for a meaningful period of time as a shlicha: to work with Jewish communities in the USA, to get to know them better, understand their challenges and bring more knowledge, culture and love of Israel to the communities here.”
After her national army service in Israel and subsequent work as a lawyer, Rosenberg took an intensive training session at the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) seminar in July 2016, before beginning her post as shlicha at the Westchester Jewish Council office in White Plains, with the financial support and vision of UJA Federation of New York.
Rosenberg believes that being an Israeli emissary is part of her Jewish journey and says that her role is “to expose the community to the diversity of Israel through developing and institutionalizing Israeli programming and awareness through education and engagement.”
Rosenberg further believes that the support and connection of American Jewry to the State of Israel is essential. She stated, “In my opinion, this connection means having a better understanding of what is going on in Israel...to experience closeness, mutual concern and especially a belonging to the country.”
In discussions with The Jewish Link, Rosenberg explained that the community shlichut program was launched in New York in the summer of 2013; she is the third shlicha based at WJC. In the summer of 2016, the program expanded to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Together with Westchester community partner organizations, last August saw the launching of the “Shinshinim” (young emissaries) program, aimed to attract Israeli students who have completed their senior year in high school who wish to participate as Israeli emissaries prior to joining the IDF. There are currently two young shlichim working under Rosenberg’s supervision in 10 different Westchester institutions.
In Israel, Rosenberg worked as a lawyer and accredited mediator. She served as a senior deputy in the State Attorney’s Office in the Ministry of Justice. Rosenberg has represented the State of Israel in many types of criminal proceedings and cases heard before the Supreme Court and has appeared before the Knesset committees. Over the past few years, Rosenberg took part in an inter-ministry program, “Message,” which aids teenagers with negative social challenges and helps implement preventative actions. She has also volunteered at The Israel Women’s Network.
Rosenberg said that while the first goal of shlichut is engaging with Israel through different programs, events, talks, relationships, roundtables and more, the second goal is building community. This can be done by creating coalitions between different synagogues and schools. Developing partnerships is one way to build one community out of many. The message of “Hinei ma tov uma na’im, shevet achim gam yachad” (“How good and pleasant it is when brothers gather together”) is a strong Jewish tradition and goal implemented by Rosenberg in her work as a shlicha.
She explained that she is “doing my best to bring synagogues from different denominations together. I have learned a lot from my community about American Jewry and about different perspectives on Israel, as well. I know for sure that I’m not going back to Israel the same way I came here two years ago.”
As part of the New York shlichim delegation, Rosenberg has learned much from the Westchester community and firmly believes in the importance of building a live bridge between Israel and American Jewry. Rosenberg said, “This is crucial, especially today when many issues like pluralism in Israel divide the connections between the communities here and in Israel.”
Working with synagogues, Jewish community centers, day schools, Hillels and more, Rosenberg has organized many significant community events such as Honor Week—recognizing wounded Israeli soldiers—a community-wide Tu B’Shevat celebration, Yom Hazikaron memorials and Yom Ha’atzmaut festive gatherings, and is currently spearheading the [email protected] celebration, scheduled for Sunday, April 15.
By Yvette Finkelstein