Meet Our New Sh’licha, Aya Margalit

Jul 07, 2023 / 18 Tammuz, 5783

She Came Back as Fast as She Could

Aya Margalit spent her first Summer in Texas in 2003 and always planned to return.

Aya Margalit is no stranger to Temple Emanu-El and the Texas Jewish community, and we are thrilled to be welcoming her and her family to Temple in August as our new sh’licha, or Israel emissary. For the next two years, she will spend her summers working at URJ Greene Family Camp and the school year helping to implement Israel education programming for all ages at Temple.

Her program is known as the CLASP (Camp Leader and Synagogue Professional) Fellowship of the Union for Reform Judaism.

“Aya is already well known to many in our community through her work at camp, and now she will be able to bring her training as an educator and her special gifts of passion and purpose of Israel education to all of Temple,” says Rabbi Amy Rossel, Senior Director of Education and Engagement. “We are also grateful to the URJ Greene Family Camp and the Jewish Agency for Israel for being our partners in this very promising project. I know you’ll join the Temple clergy, staff and lay leadership in welcoming her warmly to Temple.”

Aya and her husband, Erez, and their three children — Yuval, 14, Danielle, 12, and Roni, 4 — live on kibbutz Nir Yitzhak near the Gaza border.

Ironically enough, she says, it took coming to America to allow her to truly connect to her Judaism. “Growing up, my family was not very religious at all and being Jewish in Israel is easy, because it is the norm. Friday is Shabbat and holidays are easy to observe because everyone goes off of the Hebrew calendar. I truly discovered my Judaism for the first time when my family moved to Wisconsin for a year for my mother’s job with the Weitzmann Institute of Science. America is where I really began to observe and celebrate, and after that I knew I wanted to come back to the U.S. as a sh’licha.”

In the summer of 2003, Aya did just that. She spent her first summer as a sh’licha at Greene as a counselor and zookeeper. She was so excited to bring Israel to camp, but never could have imagined all the things that camp would give her in return. “Being at camp gave me so much connection: to my Judaism, to new people and to a community that I didn’t have before.” Since then, camp has become a family affair that is always the highlight of their summers.

“When I came to camp in 2003, I made it my goal to be able to come to the US as a long-term sh’licha. I never imagined that that dream would come true 20 years later with my husband and children by my side.”

Aya can’t wait to jump into being part of the Temple Emanu-El community with her family and share Israel with us in a more personal, informal way. “I want people to have a face, a name, a family that they can think of when they hear about Israel in the news or on social media,” she says. “Israel is the most incredible nation of people who care unconditionally. The people truly are what makes the place and I hope to be able to bring a little bit of our love of Israel to Dallas.”

Aya and Erez Margalit with their children Danielle, Roni and Yuval at Greene Family Camp.

Story taken from the July/August 2023 Window | Written by Livia Bernstein