As Leeds welcomes Reut Mor, the new community Shlicha, JLife’s Evangeline Spachis caught up with her for a quick chat.
First things first, welcome to Leeds! How do you like the place so far?
Thank you. Oh wow, well, it’s beautiful! I had a few days of sun too, which was quite nice. Everyone has been so welcoming and the community here is amazing. The hospitality has been really warm and friendly and I really like it here.
Have you had a chance to explore the city and the region?
I have because when I arrived everyone was on vacation, so there haven’t been many people around. I had a bit of time to explore and see the countryside for myself. My colleagues at Makor showed me around a bit too – it’s a really very beautiful area.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m from Jerusalem and I’m 31 years old. I studied psychology and education and before that I studied architecture and interior design. I’ve been working in education and non-formal youth education for a while now – about seven years all together. My last position was managing a youth department in one of the neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. I really wanted to go into education as it was my passion and I love learning and working with teens, but I really wanted to try doing it somewhere new. I wanted to teach creative education while also exploring new cultures and creating interactions and meeting new people.
When I came across The Jewish Agency for Israel, it seemed to be ideal for me. I could teach in a Jewish community, I would feel at home and at the same time I could find out how Jewish education is done in other places, not just in Israel. Being here gives me the opportunity to travel and see the world, meet new people and deal with things that I haven’t dealt with in Israel and focus on what I really believe in.
Was the application for the role a long process?
It was. To join you have to apply and it’s a long process in which the agency makes its own selection. After that you have two weeks training, which I had in July this year. You have interviews with the community too to let them decide if they want you, and you have to decide if you want them too! It took about a year for it to finally come through.
Big shoes to fill – did you get to meet Or, the last emissary for Leeds?
Of course. We talked a lot while I was still in Israel, and then I asked to come here early so I could get to know him, get to know the work he did and so that we could have a bit of an overlap. He talked me through it all so we did work together for a few days and he showed me the amazing projects he had started. He was here for four years, so it was quite a lot! I’m hoping I’ll do as good a job as he did and preserve those projects.
Do you have any projects of your own that you would like to focus on?
I have a lot ideas that I brought with me from Israel and new ideas that were created here when I arrived and got to know the area a bit more. But I think the best thing to begin with is to learn what everyone here needs and wants. First of all, I’ll use the first few weeks to meet the community, see everyone and then I will create my own programme to bring to the table and will hopefully suit those needs.
How long do you plan to be here?
I don’t know yet, we’ll see! You start with two years to begin with and then after that you can decide whether you wish to extend a further two years. If the community likes you and you like them back then you have to opportunity to stay.
You led a cooking demonstration at The Big Jewish Nosh Fest recently. Besides cooking, what do you like to get up to?
I cooked one of my family recipes from my grandmother. I like cooking very much, though I had never tried cooking in front of many people before!
I have many hobbies…I love hiking, travelling. I love the arts – I do a bit of photography and sewing. I love going out, meeting people and making new friends. I like to keep busy and I’m not one to sit around and wait for things to happen.
To get in touch with Reut and to find out more about her plans for Leeds, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JLife will also be featuring a regular column from Reut starting in the next edition. Be sure to pick up a copy to keep up to date with our new emissary’s activities!