Shira Sings Israel’s Song

Shira’s first love is basketball. She plays pick-up at the J on Sundays and was welcomed with open arms

As a former professional basketball player for Maccabi Ashdod (in Israel and Eurocup) and for Israel’s national team, coming to Indiana to play college basketball was a natural fit for Shira, though it was worlds away from where she grew up. “Ashdod is right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, so I love surfing and the beach! Israel is such a happy place — strangers don’t mind just dancing in the street if good music is playing, and people are very kind. You can find any kind of food, there’s a lot to do, and the nightlife is great. That’s what I think about when I think Israel — good vibes. And it’s so diverse with people, it’s like a melting pot — my grandfather is Moroccan, my grandma is Egyptian, and my mom is South African, so it’s a whole big mix.”

While she essentially came to America on a whim (a month after finishing her mandatory military service, she was on campus for her first fall semester, so it was a very fast turnaround), Shira’s put down roots: Not only did she earn a chemistry degree from the University of Indianapolis but also graduated with an MBA a year later, got a job, and started renting an apartment. “I think about going back [to Israel] every day, but I just keep rolling with it,” she said. “I’m doing well at work and have my twin sister here with me. I renewed my lease, so at least one more year!”

Feeling Home From Afar

Shira hasn’t been back to Israel since October 7; that was coincidentally her last day of a three-week trip home and she was on the last flight out. “I left the bomb shelter and we floored it all the way to the airport,” she said. “We got on the plane while there were still sirens going off.” The 13 hours she spent on the plane to New York were nervewracking as she waited to find out whether her dad had made it home safe (he did).

Shira loves how open the Mordoh Fitness Center feels and is inspired by the people she sees taking Group Ex classes

Shira’s close high school friends have all since been called back into the military, and she’s grateful every day that her cousin and friends who were considering attending the Nova music festival didn’t wind up going. “The [people] I know personally are okay but friends of friends — it’s a small country, we all know everyone,” she said. “There were dozens of funerals I could have been at but couldn’t attend. Everybody knows someone; everybody is affected.” After everything, she wanted to find the Indy Jewish community at the J, where she can do what she loves and also speak Hebrew with people like Debbie at the Welcome Desk.

Indy Celebrating Israel

July 8–12, JCC members can enjoy Israeli music in fitness classes and see the model IDF airplanes on display in the breezeway, while CampJCC campers celebrate Israeli Day.

Plus, see Team Israel baseball captain Ryan Lavarnway at Jewish Community Night at Victory Field on Tuesday, July 9! Tickets at