By Gila Golder
Two professionals from the city of Shoham in Israel will be featured speakers at the annual Israel Festival as part of a five-day visit to Memphis that includes engagement throughout the Memphis Jewish community and the broader Memphis community, announced Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners (JCP).
Avi Eliyahou, a 30-year veteran of the IDF and military intelligence expert, and Tali Versano-Eisman, Deputy Director of the Cohen-Harris Resilience Center in Tel Aviv and an expert in trauma and resilience services, are in Memphis through Monday, October 15 and will speak at Sunday’s Israel Festival at the Agricenter. Their visit is a project of the Memphis-Shoham partnership, which Memphis Jewish Federation (MJF) launched in November 2016 through the Partnership2Gether Peoplehood Platform (P2G), a program of Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
Avi has served in a wide variety of intelligence positions in the IDF, including as chief of the intelligence unit of the Southern Command. In that role, he directed intelligence operations for the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. He is a world expert on terrorism, and since retiring from the IDF, he has served as a research fellow at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) and a lecturer in the field.
Tali specializes in supporting children whose lives have been affected by terror attacks and other emergency situations. During Operation Protective Edge, she served in Israel’s southern region, providing trauma counseling to children affected by constant missile attacks. She is a co-author of The King Said: At Ease, a children’s book about feeling in control during times of distress.
Both Avi and Tali have experience working with Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Avi has worked as an IDF ambassador in North America and as an intelligence attaché, developing strategic intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel. Tali is a national ambassador for Jewish Women Renaissance Project (JWRP), which empowers Jewish women through its flagship MOMentum mission to Israel. Later this month, MJF will lead a group of women on Memphis’s second MOMentum mission.
“My repeated collaborations with US-based organizations have taught me to appreciate the unique relationship between the two countries [the US and Israel],” Tali said.
At the Israel Festival, Avi and Tali will speak at separate sessions at 11:00 AM. Tali’s topic is “Developing Resilience: Practical Tips and Techniques from the Front Lines in Israel.” Avi’s topic is “Terrorism: No One is Immune; Lessons from the Israeli Intelligence Service.” At 1:45 PM, they will both participate in a speakers’ panel addressing questions about the situation in Israel today. At 3:45 PM, they will make a joint presentation on the topic of “The Last War in Gaza: The Military Confrontation and the Civilian Resilience.”
While in Memphis, Avi and Tali will network with and present to local professionals in their respective fields. Avi will give two security briefings to Memphis law enforcement and Tali will lead workshops on resilience for local mental health professionals, for MJF’s Teen Professionals Council, and for students at the Goldie Margolin School for Girls.
Also this month, the Memphis delegation of the General Assembly, an annual gathering of volunteer and professional leaders from Jewish communities throughout North America, will visit Shoham. Other upcoming projects for the Memphis-Shoham partnership include a Thanksgiving dinner in Shoham for visiting Jewish Memphians and a delegation of educators from Bornblum Jewish Community School and Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South to Shoham as part of an ongoing school twinning program.
In April 2019, the Shoham Steering Committee for the partnership will travel to Memphis to meet with the Memphis Steering Committee and plan out future projects. They will join the Memphis Jewish community at MJF’s 2nd annual A Taste of Israel celebration on April 4. And to cap off the year, Bornblum Jewish Community School’s 8th-grade trip to Israel and Margolin Hebrew Academy’s 7th and 8th grade trip to Israel will each include a visit to Shoham.
Members of the Memphis Jewish community are encouraged to visit Shoham whenever they travel to Israel. Home hospitality in Shoham during the week or for Shabbat can be arranged for visiting Memphians. For more information, contact Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, Chief Strategy Officer for JCP, at email@example.com.