Welcoming Omer Karavani to Michiana
Omer joins the Federation team in September as our new shaliach.
Hello everybody! My name is Omer Karavani. I am going to be the new shaliach in South Bend, Indiana. I’ll be arriving in September. I am 23 years old, and I was born and raised in Ashkelon, a coastal city, about an hour drive south of Tel Aviv.
In my free time, I love to travel. I enjoy workouts and all kinds of sports, such as football, basketball and table tennis. I LOVE to cook all sorts of things, from pasta to fish and meat. I also love art. I love to draw and sculpt. I love going to museums and places where I can find someone else’s creativity. I also love spending time with my family and friends.
I was born in an orthodox family and went to a boy’s yeshiva for 6 years. Now I am not orthodox, but because my family allowed me to be myself and to explore my own Judaism, I would say I am really connected to Judaism both in knowledge and the love for our traditions and holidays.
My father is an architect, and my mom is a teacher. I have two big brothers, one little sister and four nephews. All of my siblings have done things that related to the relationship of Israel and the US, or Israel and Jewish people around the world. My older brother lived in Washington D.C. while he did advanced training with the U.S. Army.
My other big brother participated in the Diller Teen Fellowship, a program that takes young students and teaches them about Jewish people in other cities around the globe. My little sister also participated in the Diller Teen Fellowship and did a full year of volunteering in Baltimore, Maryland as a shlicha.
My first experience with the Jewish people around the world was in the ninth grade. I went to a camp in Szarvas, Hungary. This camp brings together Jewish kids from 25 countries around the world. As an Israeli camper, I felt like an ambassador for my little country, and knew that I needed to represent Israel in the best way possible.
After the camp I knew I wanted to continue doing things, so I also took part in the Diller Teen Fellowship. I met friends who until today I am still in touch with.
Before my army service I knew I wanted to give more to my country as a civilian, so I decided to go for a gap year of volunteer service in our lovely capital city Jerusalem.
I decided that I wanted to go to a program called “Hayerushalmit,” for a few reasons. You have the ability to volunteer four times a week in a place that you choose at the beginning of the year, so you make progress with people. Those people may be little kids from the age of 3-5, elderly people, disabled kids, or at-risk youth.
I chose to volunteer three times a week with little kids in a kindergarten, and once a week with elderly people.
The second reason is that the gap year teaches that all of us should be equal, and there is no chance that someone from one background couldn’t get in the gap year because of money. So, all of us worked together so we could fund each other.
The third reason is the city. We stayed in the most beautiful city in Israel, so I got the chance to live there for a year, explore the city secrets, people, food and culture.
In August 2019, I joined the Israel Defense Forces to be a combat soldier in the Artillery Corps. It was a difficult 2.8 years, but for sure it was worth it. I felt that I gave my country my thanks for providing a safe home for me. It also gave me a lot of confidence in myself, the ability to work through pain, both physical and emotional.
In the army, I made friends for life, other kids like me who decided to leave a nice warm home for something bigger than themselves. Things weren’t easy, but I don’t regret anything for a moment. I felt that I protected my home.
To the community in Michiana, please know I will be there for you. If you want to know more about Israel or discover your Judaism, or just have some fun, I will be there.
If you’d like to host Omer for a meal on Shabbat when he arrives, contact Bob Feferman, Community Relations Director (email@example.com).