Meet R.I.’s new Israeli emissary


If you ask his favorite superhero, Amit Moshe Oren will tell you that it’s Batman. When he was 15, Oren saw the film “The Dark Knight,” and the exploits of the Caped Crusader inspired him.

“He’s such an underdog,” said Oren, who is working to become a full-time comic-book writer. “He’s the only human in the DC Universe. He has no superpowers, yet he’s one of the greatest heroes.”

Oren, 24, may not be a superhero, but he is embarking on his own adventure: He has started his two-year service as the Israeli shaliach (emissary) to the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. He arrived in the United States in late August, taking over from shlichah Or Cohen.

“I felt at home here not even two weeks after coming,” he said. “[Providence] reminds me of the city I grew up in, Rishon Le-Zion, in a lot of ways.”

Oren’s mother is a social worker and his father is a professional basketball coach.

After school, Oren served as a combat medic for Bardelas, a special coed battalion in the Israeli military.

“My army service made me more independent and more focused on what I’d like to do with my life,” he said in a recent interview.

Oren has also worked as a counselor at two summer camps, URJ Camp Newman, in California, and NFTY, in Israel. He says he embraced both communities and liked serving as a role model. Then, he started to pursue a shaliach position, and was eventually placed in Providence.

Meanwhile, Oren is a serious reader of comics and graphic novels, and he enthusiastically writes his own scripts, including dialogue and visual descriptions. He sends these scripts to several artists around the world, who illustrate his stories as comic-book panels. He often juggles several different collaborations at once, some of them realistic and others more imaginative.

“I love telling stories about finding the courage within yourself to achieve great things, about aspiring to always become a better version of yourself, and about making peace with the way life is sometimes,” he said.

Oren has already spent months in the U.S., over the course of five trips. This time around, he has visited Boston and New York, where he reconnected with friends from Israel and broadened his sampling of American life.

As the new shaliach, Oren, who speaks English well, looks forward to connecting with Rhode Islanders and to intercultural dialogue.

“I would love to engage more with youth, including college students, in the community, and make their connection to Israel stronger,” he said. “I’d love to introduce everyone to a different Israel they might not have seen before, using my own unique Israeli point of view.”

ROBERT ISENBERG ( is the multimedia producer for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and a writer for Jewish Rhode Island.