Shlicha brings fresh vision of Israel to Oregon

Portland’s new Israeli shlicha (emissary), Natalie Nahome, 26, fondly recalls the strong sense of Jewish community she experienced growing up in London.

When she was 7, her family made aliyah and her community got bigger.

After earning her degree in governance and diplomacy from the Herziliyah Interdisciplinary Center, Nahome says she wanted a meaningful way to share her knowledge and love of Israel with others before beginning her career in the political realm.

Oregon seems like a wonderful place to do that, since Nahome enjoys hiking, traveling, yoga, sports, food and music festivals – all in abundantly diverse profusion in the Pacific Northwest. A gymnast for 15 years, Nahome now enjoys boxing and is looking forward to skiing.

She says she has big shoes to fill following Amos Meron, Portland’s first shaliach (masculine form of emissary or ambassador) in more than 30 years.

“Amos did a great job,” says Nahome, who spent a few days with Meron before he returned to Israel in early September. “He had all the difficulties to get people to know what the job is. It will be so much easier for me.”

Nahome plans to continue Meron’s work with synagogues, youth groups and young adults. She also wants to reach out to even more people.

Asked how she will differ from Meron, Nahome says, “We spent a few days together and we are very alike. But I’ve just finished my degree with a specialty in the Middle East, so I may have more knowledge and facts. A lot of young adult groups are forming in Portland, and they are ready to take it to the next level. They are excited and want to learn about Israel.”

Nahome has abundant experience in teaching about Israel. For her military service, she served in the Israel Defense Force’s educational corps, where she taught new recruits about Israeli history and geography. She has been involved in a wide range of volunteer activities with different age groups, including tutoring low-income high school students.

The one thing she wants people to understand about Israel is how safe it is.

“People think from what they see on the news that Israel is very dangerous,” Nahome says. “But a girl can walk down the street in Israel at any time of night and it is the safest place to be.”

That is probably fortunate since, as Nahome says, “We party till morning. Night life in Israel can end at six o’clock in the morning.”

Nahome plans to bring that festive feeling here – though not till 6 am. She wants to create fun events that will bring everyone together.

“I’m really available for any question,” she says. “If you are traveling to Israel, pop into my office and I can give you some tips and information.”

Nahome’s office is located at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, 6680 SW Capitol Hwy. She can be reached at 503-608-8134 or natalie@jewishportland.org.

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