By Ilana Schear
On NFTY in Israel, you will meet a lot of cool, new people, including your amazing staff! Rome Eliahou has just finished his Army Service and is looking forward to showing American teens around his homeland. Before his service, Rome dedicated time during a gap year abroad in London, working in the Jewish community at a camp through JLGB – Positive Jewish Activities for Jewish Youth, which “strives to help develop a society that values Jewish young people and their contributions to their local and wider communities.” I got to know Rome a bit more during this fun interview.
This interview was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
“In the world, it would be Jamaica. I went for my Bar Mitzvah trip. It was awesome. In Israel, I think I love the desert – the Negev. There is just something very special about it, kind of magical place for me. I love it.”
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
“I want to go to New Orleans. I think I am going to get there someday. But, I just love music and there is a really cool music scene over there, a lot of big artists came from New Orleans. So, I really want to go there and play some music.”
What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?
“There would be a lot of songs, actually. I love music, I have too many songs. Surely some Red Hot Chili Peppers. I love good songs that connect to my life. I like “Road Trippin” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a cool song, it has this kind of story, it talks about a journey that I really connect to. There are a few songs in Hebrew also. There is Dudu Tassa. The song is basically named “I’m Running”. All the time I am trying to do a lot of stuff and trying to achieve as many things as I can in my life, so I think this song kind of connects to my life.”
Check out Israeli singer Dudu Tassa here:
What is something you’ve learned in the last week?
“Playing the ukulele. I just bought one, it’s very cool. I’ve played the guitar for a long time, but I just learned how to play this one last week.”
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
“I am colorblind. It’s between red and green. I can see red, I can see green, but all the colors in between might be confusing to me.”
What do you do when you aren’t staffing NFTY in Israel?
“I’ve just finished my army service a few weeks ago. So, basically now I am at home relaxing, seeing my friends at home and playing some music. Later, I will start working at a high-tech company in Israel. And this summer after NFTY in Israel I will travel to see a concert in Budapest.”
What are you most looking forward to this summer on NFTY in Israel?
“I think kind of building my group, getting to know new people. It’s really special building this kind of group, which is very diverse, a lot of different people; Israeli staff, American staff, American teens. It sounds like a very special experience, so I am really looking forward to build this group together.”
Why did you decide to apply for NFTY in Israel staff?
“I actually heard about it from my sister, she used to be a madricha [counselor] about 7 years ago. There is even a picture of her in the NFTY in Israel office here in Jerusalem, so that’s cool. Also, her husband was also on NFTY in Israel and they met on NFTY in Israel, he was a logistics guide and she was a madricha. They told me it was a good thing to do this summer and after I heard a bit more about the program, it looked really cool and very interesting to me.”
What do you hope to learn this summer?
“It is very interesting to me the way American Jewish kids at the age of 16 see Israel. I want to hear from them what do they know about Israel and what is it for them, what is the meaning of it as a state. And also, talk to them about it, discuss it, maybe change their opinions a bit, and even learn from them about it. It’s a very interesting thing.”
What do you hope the participants learn this summer?
“I really want them to get the meaning of what is Israel as a Jewish country because for me as an Israeli, going abroad and working with Jews in Europe and the US, it really changed my perspective about the State of Israel. You cannot really get the idea without understanding Jewish communities around the world. I don’t know, half the Jewish people are in the US, not in Israel. I want them to get the meaning of the State of Israel and what it is about.”
The full NFTY in Israel team is very excited for what will be an amazing summer. Our staff are working hard to prepare for 500 teens to come to Israel in a few short months. Make sure to look out for more staff introductions leading up to the summer.