What It Means to Be Part of a Jewish People

Dec 21, 2022

By: Itai Divinsky
Senior Community Israel Emissary (Shaliach)

Shabbat has just started, Negev nights are already getting cold and the Shabbat in Retamim is quiet, the kind of quiet that invites you to take a walk. I park at the entrance and start walking looking for the house where an impossible group of Americans and Israelis in their 30s/40s are gathered for a Shabbat meal. I know the name of the family hosting but I don’t even need to read the name on the house, the sounds of togetherness, of friendship, of Mishpacha are hard to miss. I don’t bother knocking because no one will hear. I walk in and say hello to the hosts who are busy in the kitchen getting everything ready. I take a minute to look and listen, take in this special moment.

3.5 years away from home with my family, it’s not always easy to explain what a Shaliach does and why. In that moment, at Shabbat dinner in Retamim it becomes very clear. This is what the Israel & Overseas Center is all about. Our efforts are very literally building the future of a united and strong Jewish people. Around the table is a group of Jews that would have never met without the work of great people and organizations like JEWISHcolorado, Ramat Hanegev, and The Jewish Agency for Israel. This group is diverse in the most real way, we are Orthodox, Secular, Reform, Conservative and everything in between, and the sense of being together could not be stronger.

It’s hard to summarize 7 very full days of experiences with our YAD/RNG exchange program in Israel, but this moment is certainly one that sticks out. We met in Denver 3 times prior to going to Israel for a week together. During those meetings, we got to know each other, discussed our relationship with Judaism, and learned about the longstanding relationship between the Jewish community of CO and the people of Ramat Hanegev. Now, after returning from a very impactful week in Israel together we will continue to deepen our relationships and together learn what it means to each of us to be part of a Jewish people.

Later this year, the Ramat Hanegev cohort will visit CO and get to experience firsthand what it means to be Jewish outside of Israel.

Please email Itai Divinsky at idivinsky@jewishcolorado.org with comments or questions.