It’s not every day you run into a member of a coed combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces.
Meet Adi Ratzon, 30, the shlicha for the Baltimore Zionist District. She brings Israeli culture to the Baltimore community through unique programs.
Ratzon is originally from Ramat Gan, Israel. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo.
Before her current position, she was active in community service with children. When she worked in a middle school, she led the school’s social programming and student council. In the evenings, she volunteered in a welfare club for kids and helped them with their homework and personal challenges. She was also in charge of the Maccabi Tzair youth movement chapter in the city of Dimona.
In her free time, she likes to travel and explore the world. She also loves to watch tennis and complete puzzles. She enjoys live music, though her choices for concerts are limited in the pandemic.
Ratzon lives in Towson, where she is a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.
How did you wind up at BZD?
Most of my life I was part of the Maccabi Tzair youth movement in Israel. During my time there, I had a few opportunities to be a part of and run several delegations to different Jewish communities around the world. Those amazing short experiences led me to the decision to do shlichut and get to know the Jewish community here in Baltimore. The BZD has a strong and deep connection with Maccabi World Union, which sent me here. I’m grateful for the chance to get to know the amazing people in the Jewish community in Baltimore, and I’m happy to learn more about the differences between American and Israeli culture, people, tradition and relation to Judaism. I enjoy collaborating with other Jewish organizations in order to make our community more and more involved, united and educated about Israel.
What have you learned in your career?
[For] over a decade, I worked with teens, and I learned a whole world! Most important is that they can create a world. They are smart, motivated and ambitious. All we have to do is give them a chance and a bit of guidance, and they rule the world. This will also solve their problems in which they don’t feel like the adults understand them and trust them. The best way to communicate is to be honest, sensitive and straightforward.
From the IDF, I learned two important things: First; you can do anything you like. No one can tell you different. Second: never give up, even if your plans went wrong. I got injured and needed to change a role in my squad.
What did you do in the IDF?
I served in the Caracal Unit, which is the first combat unit that includes women and men who serve and fight side by side. I was based in southern Israel at the border with Egypt.
What have you been doing for the holidays?
I was lucky to spend the holidays with my family in Israel. I cooked and baked a lot with my mom and had a great time with my nephews and nieces. In case you were asking about BZD, we held three virtual events related to each holiday.
What does your Jewish identity mean to you?
Growing up in Israel, the state of the Jewish people has made me feel my Judaism in two main ways: tradition and Zionism. For me, my Jewish identity means family tradition, family time together on Shabbat and holidays. A part of my choice to relocate to Baltimore is that I feel a duty to advocate for my country that allows me and millions other Jews to be a free people in our land.