Young Jewish Agency emissary remembered by family and friends

Michal Elboim, killed in Florida boat accident, laid to rest in Neveh Har Cemetery in her hometown of Hod Hasharon.

Elboim 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Elboim 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Michal Elboim, the Jewish Agency emissary who was killed when she fell off a boat during a cruise in Florida on Sunday, was laid to rest on Wednesday in the Neveh Har Cemetery in her hometown of Hod Hasharon. Elboim, 24, was due to return to Israel in just a few weeks after spending a year with the Pensacola, Florida Jewish community as an emissary for the Jewish Agency's "Arevim" program. "She did many of things in her short 24 years that most people don't do or get to do their entire lives," her mother Shosh told The Jerusalem Post. "She was full of life, always optimistic. She never thought anything bad would happen so it is sad that this tragedy took her life." Elboim was a born leader, her mother said. During high school, she was a counselor for the Israel Scouts youth movement. After graduating, she spent her year of national service volunteering with Ethiopian immigrants in Migdal Ha'emek. She served two and a half years in the army, lending an ear to fellow soldiers requiring help with personal problems related to their service. While traveling abroad in South America, Elboim met members of the Jewish Agency. After learning what they did, she decided that joining with them would be a way for her to share her deep-felt love of Israel with others. In Pensacola, Elboim served as an "ambassador" for Israel, educating both the Jews and non-Jews of the community. She taught at the local Hebrew school, arranging for the children to send letters to the children of Sderot. Elboim met with college students, working with them to combat anti-Semitism on campus. She gathered others together for bi-weekly meetings to discuss happenings in Israel and their effects on the US and organized holiday parties and participated in a taglit-birthright trip to Israel. She is survived by her parents, Yishai and Shosh, and her sister, Tali, and brother, Gil. Leonard Zukrow, rabbi of the Temple Beth El synagogue in Pensacola, expressed awe over Elboim's dedication. "I have been with Pensacola for three years. During that time we have had two other emissaries. Michal brought to us more than we have had from the others. If you could design a representative of Israel that would not be a single person, but the ideal, she came very close to being the ideal. This loss is profound. She was absolutely loved." Michal intended to return to Israel to pursue a degree in anthropology and Israel studies at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. There, instead of living among other students, Elboim again chose to reach out to others by living with a community in the South, helping to educate and strengthen its society while also building leadership qualities. Michelle Spivak, a childhood friend who was touched by Elboim, felt that Michal would have thrived in such an environment. "She really connected with people. The warmth that she had and she shared was just contagious. There is a common American saying that goes: 'To the world, you may be only one person, but to one person, you may be the world.' She was my world. She opened up the world to me, showing me the Jewish state and the Jewish people. She made it home. It is going to be very hard without her." At her funeral, Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielsky closed by saying: "Separating from you, Michal, is hard and it hurts. During the course of the summer, we will have to separate from you. During the course of the summer that you were supposed to return to Israel to fulfill your dreams, to take the path you marked out for yourself, a road of personal fulfillment integrated with Jewish, Zionistic activities directed at helping the Jewish people and the Jewish state. May your memory be blessed."