Akron’s Jewish community will host Israeli singer-songwriter Rami Feinstein and his family for two to four years as he assumes the role of shaliach, educator and connector to Israel.
Feinstein may be familiar to locals who saw him perform at Akron’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration in May. His first trip to Akron was in March, when The Summit Radio brought him in for an interview with Brad Savage.
Feinstein, 46, who previously lived in Tel Aviv, arrived with his wife, Soly, and their two children, Maio, 7, and Libi, 4, on Aug. 10. They will live in Akron, where the children will attend The Lippman School, and where Soly will work as an art therapist after the family is settled.
Feinstein has worked as an educator in marketing and has created content strategizing for many brands, he said. He said he sees music as a way of connecting with people.
“We’re here to see how we can strengthen the connections between the Jewish community here in Akron and Israel,” he told the Akron Jewish News.
He said the voyage with his family entailed lugging “many, many suitcases and two guitars, so it was challenging, but all things considered, I think it went OK. … The best thing about it was the warm, welcoming that we got from people from the community that made us feel welcome.”
He said one of his chief responsibilities will be to figure out what sort of relationship Akron wants to have with Israel.
The native of Paramus, N.J., who grew up in Israel’s Ra’anana and Sha’arei Tikva, made an appearance at The Lippman School in March during his Yom Ha’atzmaut visit. He met Head of School Sam Chestnut, who is also chief program officer at the Jewish Community Board of Akron.
Meanwhile, Daniel Blain, CEO at Jewish Community Board of Akron, had determined that having a shaliach in the Akron community would be an important role to fill, particularly as Israel approaches its 75th anniversary in spring 2023.
“This year, when I started in my new role and started having conversations with people, I was struck by how often they brought up the importance of having a shaliach and how people have stayed in touch with shlichim who had been in Akron previously,” Blain told the AJN.
By the time Blain approached The Jewish Agency of Israel about providing a shaliach to Akron, none of their candidates were available.
“We then found out that Rami was available,” Blain said, explaining that JCBA brought him back to perform at Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Following positive feedback from that performance, three interviews and several conversations and reference checks, “We were convinced this was a unique opportunity,” Blain said. “Rami has a very eclectic set of skills and experiences.”
Feinstein served in the Israel Defense Forces first as an education officer and then as a lieutenant conducting officers’ training.
He describes his music as a combination of Israeli and American, influenced by American artists including Paul Simon, Dave Matthews and John Mayer. The lyrics he described as “very upfront, and in that sense Israeli.” He named Israeli artists Danny Sanderson, Danny Robas and Shlomi Shaban as key influences as well.
“We feel that it’s a big honor to be chosen,” Feinstein said, adding that he realizes bringing in a shaliach represents a major commitment on the part of the Akron Jewish community. “We take it very seriously. And that’s definitely the biggest challenge: to make an impact.
“I’m excited. I’m a people person, and I’m excited to meet everyone. I’m excited to get to know as many people as I can, to hear their views about Israel, and how we can strengthen the connection together.”