Although Kansas City isn’t Tal Shabo’s home, the warm reception he’s received since arriving here in September has made it feel that way.
“All the people I’ve met are so nice and kind, and have welcomed me with open arms,” he said.
Shabo, 23, was born and raised in Givat Zeev, a suburb of Jerusalem. He is the newest Israel Emissary for Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City. Each year or two, a young adult from Israel rotates into the position, which is staffed at Jewish Federation to operate an outreach program dedicated to promoting and strengthening the community’s connection to Israel.
“I love working in education and teaching about Israel; that is my passion,” Shabo said. “I have a lot of knowledge about Israel that I would love to share with the community.”
The emissary (or shaliach) develops and implements Israel-related activities and events for all age groups, working with synagogues, preschools, religious schools, youth groups and other organizations.
“Having someone who is dedicated to bringing Israel to Kansas City is so important, because it adds to the diversity of our Jewish community and fosters a better understanding of Israel,” said Dr. Helene Lotman, Jewish Federation President and CEO. “We are very happy to have Tal here to share his love for Israel and his experiences with us.”
Although Shabo has been in Kansas City for just over a month, he’s wasted no time immersing himself in the community. He’s already delivered food for JFS, taught HBHA students about Zionism, led after-school programming at The J, and visited with KU Hillel and the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Hadassah.
He’s also planning his first official event as shaliach, a tribute to Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s fifth prime minister. Shabo said honoring Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, was important to him because of how much Rabin still means to his country.
“His character is very connected with the Israeli identity. Israel as it is today is heavily influenced by Yitzhak Rabin,” he said. “This is my first event here in Kansas City, and I think it’s a great example of bring Israel to the community.
Shabo will host the tribute to Rabin from 10:00 to 11:30 am on Sunday, Nov. 10 in the MAC Room at the JCC. The event will include a presentation on Rabin’s political career, discussion on current events in Israel, and a chance for attendees to share their personal memories of Rabin. The event is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP at jewishkansascity.org/yitzhak.