People who love Hebrew and Israel as much as Ayal Weiner-Kaplow are familiar with the word shaliach , or emissary. And while that's never been his formal title, Ayal uses his passion for language and culture to build bridges between Jewish communities here and in Israel. He brings innovative Israel education to communities through his full-time work at the iCenter and conversely, while living in Israel, he started a youth group chapter for Ethiopian teens and brought two teens to the international convention of BBYO, with which he's also served as a volunteer chapter leader.
Most recently, Ayal has become an ambassador for those in need. In April 2015, following several months volunteering in Nepal with Tevel B'tzedek, he was caught in the country's terrible earthquake. He immediately joined Israeli relief efforts, translating between Israeli physicians and Nepali victims and communicating the devastation to the world through his photography. Ever since, he has spoken about his experience to raise funds for the ongoing relief efforts.
On the team at the iCenter for Israel Education
On the side:
DIY fix-it projects, cooking Indian food, yoga, learning greetings in as many languages as possible, photography and hiking
Celebrity doppelganger/who would play you in a movie:
While living in Israel, a number of the youth I was working with said I looked just like a participant named, Sa'ar on the 2012 season of Israel's reality TV show “Big Brother.” I even got a few kids asking me for my autograph. They were disappointed when I signed, “Ayal.”
How do you Jew in Chicago?
Spending time in the Old Town Moishe House community. I also love finding Israel-centric and Hebrew speaking pockets around the city!
Me in 10 years:
Getting back from a stint abroad working for a development non-governmental organization.