Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Shalom: Bringing Israel to the Charlotte Area
It’s rare when high school students get the opportunity to hear firsthand what it is like to live in Israel. Unfortunately, most high school students’ familiarity with Israel stems from the occasional news piece about the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. However, when Adi Rodavsky, a shlicha (Israeli representative) at the Jewish Federation based in Charlotte, came to speak to AJFROTC and English students at Parkwood High School last fall, she quickly changed that perspective. The way Rodavsky so eloquently described it, Israel was no longer a Middle Eastern country struggling to cope with serious threats on its borders, but a beautiful country with a rich history.
After a couple minutes of listening to Rodavsky, who grew up in Holon, located near Tel Aviv, the students recognized how down to earth and honest she was about growing up in Israel. “Israelis make everything funny,” said Rodavsky, who is in the first year of a two-year stint as shlicha. “We always make jokes about things.”
However, last summer was an extremely difficult time. As the conflict intensified throughout the country, no one was entirely safe. Although the IDF deftly intercepted most rockets with the Iron Dome, the tension was palpable. “We would hear an alarm that signaled a rocket, and we had one minute to get to a safe place,” said Rodavsky. “We got to the stairwell with our neighbors, and we would hear an explosion. That was our whole summer.”
Instead of focusing on the conflict, Rodavsky talked about growing up the daughter of a school teacher at the Mikve Israel Agricultural School, where she would later teach, her longing for the Israeli cake, Crembo, her experience in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and her shock at how big Harris Teeter was once she arrived in Charlotte.
While the focus of Rodavsky’s current position as shlicha at the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte relies on her educating others on what Israel is really like, she did not take the typical route that so many Israelis do. Instead of traveling after her IDF service, Rodavsky went to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, then began teaching at her alma mater Mikve Israel, which is considered the first educational building in all of Israel. “I joined the Israeli army for two years, and I would spend 14 days on base and then two days at home,” recalled Rodavsky, whose father worked for the IDF. “I served on the border of Lebanon, and my job was to make sure no hostile ships ever got to Israel.”
Not all students understood the ramifications of Israel’s tense relationship with Lebanon, but Rodavsky did an excellent job conveying the scope of her responsibility. Having found a nice balance during her IDF stint, Rodavsky used her slide show to highlight the major changes in her life and how she eventually made her way to the Queen City. “The IDF wasn’t all work and no play,” she said. “It was not all tense and war. It was the best time of my life. In a way you make friends you have for the rest of your life.” At the end of her presentation, students gathered around Rodavsky to pose for pictures because she did one thing that is not always easy for a speaker. She related to her audience. She understood what they wanted to hear and was genuine in her approach, and that's why months later some of those same students are still talking about her and wondering where they can get this Israeli cake called Crembo.
Written by: Chris Giudice, English Department Chairperson
Posted: Feb 13, 2015 by Lisa Moniz