By Jewish Federation of Jacksonville


This year marks the third year the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville has participated in the Shlichim (Israeli Emissaries) program run by The Jewish Agency for Israel. 

This program provides a unique opportunity to bring Israel to communities all over the world.
“The Shlichim Program is incredibly valuable to our community because it helps residents in our community feel more connected to the State of Israel and to the people who live there,” said Jill Abel, Israeli Partnership Director. “Throughout the course of the year, community members engage in a wide variety of programs led by the Shlichim. They connect with all age demographics from young children to seniors and they bring Israel alive in our community. These young people help our community members develop a deeper Jewish identity and a deeper connection with Israel.”

On August 19, we officially welcomed our new shaliach, Rotem Gabay, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to invite him into our community. While here, Rotem will get to know the people of Jacksonville. He will put on and participate in programs that bring Israel to our area.


Rotem will help plan the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration at the JCA, run programs at the day schools in the area, get to know the Holocaust survivors who call Jacksonville home, and work with the team at Jewish Family & Community Services. 
While it will take him time to meet everyone, we thought it would be a good idea to ask him a few questions so Jacksonville could know a little more about him.

Q&A with Rotem: 

Q: Where did you live in Israel and what were you doing before you decided to be a Shaliach?
A: I live in Petach Tikvah near Tel Aviv in the center of Israel. Before I was a shaliach, I was an officer in a battalion in the Israeli army for 5 years and just got released in February.


Q: What made you decide to be a 
A: This is a great opportunity to meet new people in new places and bring my Israel experience to them. I am excited to share it with the Jacksonville community and bring everyone closer to Israel.


Q: What are you most looking forward to?
A: To make a meaningful connection with the people of Jacksonville and to bring Israel to them. I want people to know and understand THEIR connection to Israel. And I am excited about the Jaguars. 


Q: What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
A: I hope to gain great relationships and make a difference. 


Q: What’s on your bucket list while living here?
A: I am excited to see football up close, travel and to see a real alligator.


Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Photography, basketball, traveling


Q: Have you been to the U.S. before, and, if so, what was your experience like?
A: I visited the states when I was 14 and spent time in the Northeast. I have relatives who live in Pennsylvania. 


Q: Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
A: My favorite place that I visited while traveling was Hong Kong.


Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: Pizza and doughnuts


Q: Favorite book?
A: “The Glass Castle”


Q: What’s your favorite type of music?
A: I like all types of music, especially reggae, alternative, and indie.