Talia Garber’s friends call her the human IMDb — the internet movie database. A movie enthusiast, she has been to film school, worked as a photographer and videographer for the Israel Defense Forces and, most recently, worked as a freelance editor. Despite her love for the industry, Garber, 30, still felt she was missing a spark in her life.
Born and raised in Israel, Garber found that spark in the United States as a shlichah, an Israeli cultural emissary — first at a summer camp and now at Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac.
Why did you decide to become a shlichah?
I finished the army and then became a shlichah at a summer camp. I was the video specialist, and I fell in love with it. I continued to go to the same summer camp for seven summers.
Once you’ve been a summer camp shlichah, the next step would be a long-term shlichah, which is what I’m doing now.
At the time I was a freelance editor and I was working for a television company, and it felt like the same every day. Talking about Jewish communities around the world or talking about Israel and being able to bring people together and making connections made me excited, and I felt like I had a spark again.
How did you get into film and video editing?
My dad is a huge film buff. And growing up, we would just watch movies all the time. What kind of kid is into black and white films? I was. If you ask me for a film title, I’ll tell you who the director was. My friend calls me a human IMDb, which I kind of like.
In Israel, you choose your major in high school. My whole school was going together to this one high school where I auditioned and was accepted to music. At another school, where I knew no one, I got into the film track, and then I had to make this decision. I made the brave decision to meet new friends at the film high school.
How did you get into makeup and special effects and what kind of work does it involve?
I was always interested in makeup. As a kid, I used to dance with the troops, representing my hometown, and we’d go to all these competitions. It would always be me as this little kid with awful blue eyeshadow and red lipstick, but I would do the same makeup for all the girls. So I knew I was interested in it.
In the army, believe it or not, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough of an artistic outlet, even though I was probably doing the most artistic thing one could do in the army. I felt like I wanted something else, something a little bit more colorful.
I put my whole salary every month toward this makeup course. At first, my dad thought I would only study film. He didn’t understand why I wanted to study makeup until I started the special effects course. He came with me, and I made him up as a zombie and ever since he’s been a fan.
What has been your favorite part about being a shlichah?
I think the biggest part is the connections that you make. It’s crazy to say that I’ve met people only on Zoom in this congregation [B’nai Tzedek], and I really feel that I’ve connected with them.
I had a session for the Holocaust Memorial Day, and I brought a film that I made in the army. I was fortunate to be on a trip to Poland with the IDF. All of the officers at the time were on a special trip, and I filmed that, cut it down to a short film, and screened it for the congregation.
It moved people. Everyone was in tears. I was in tears. After, I got a video message from a congregant, saying that they just pulled themselves together and can’t thank me enough for such a moving and meaningful session.
That’s all you can hope for is to reach out and touch other people. Jews in Israel and Jews in America — we have this huge connection. I have been toying with the idea of making some kind of film in the future about the Jewish world, something about what it’s like to be an Israeli in a Jewish community in America.