During the summer couples and families from our US communities visited our Israel partnership area in order to make friends in Israel and study more closely the meaning of Partnership2Gether.
Benjamina Menashe, Israel Programs Associate of the Seattle Federation, together with her husband Jacob visited Israel in May for the first time in twenty years and had a great day in the partnership region In addion to seeing Kiryat Malachi firsthand, they also went to Morasha school in Hof Ashkelon, before their daughter Shlomit and her 8th grade class from SHA had a terrific experience with the 8th graders at that school. Jacob said that his daughter and her classmates were so enthusiastic about interacting with their Morasha peers that he hopes the SHA visit with them can be doubled in the future!
Steve and Jennifer Schwartz from Phoenix came to the partnership for a day with their children Max (13), Emma(10) and Corey(7). They visited the Volume Music Center for teens in Kiryat Malachi and played with the band that played there. The family visited also Achvat Ha’achim elementary school in Kiryat Malachi, which maintains close relations with the 5th graders in schools in Phoenix. The Schwartz children really quickly formed new friendships with Achim’s 4th graders, who greeted them with songs and games. In Hof Ashkelon, the Schwartz family met with teens in the “Sports for all” program that is supported by the partnership. They played soccer together and got a unique gift, team uniforms. They closed their partnership visit at Moshav Netiv Ha’asara, where they stood at the wall that separates the moshav and the Gaza Strip. Revital Lavy, the Hof Ashkelon staff representative on the Partnership board, acquainted them about the life right on the border with Gaza.
Jennifer wrote about their experience: “During our recent trip to Israel for our son’s Bar Mitzvah, we decided to visit our partnership region of Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon and see what it is the Jewish community of Greater Phoenix works so hard to support. This day turned out to be one of the highlights of our Israel experience–not only did we meet wonderful people and learn about their culture, but the day also showed us that dollars we donate to our local Jewish Community Association (formerly Jewish Federation) matter. From experiencing their equivalent to our JCC (so vibrant!) and the tremendous programs offered there to the afternoon programs that keep at-risk teens productively engaged (and so much more), we saw with our own eyes the importance of the partnership program. Not so incidentally, our partnership region sits very close to the Gaza border and, with this, comes the reality that our brothers and sisters face risks we Jews in the US cannot fully appreciate. But, it is this very reality that inspires them to have a full appreciation for family, friends (old and new) and life in general. Our kids took particular note at how welcoming the school children were and that they were so very joyful. What a special place! The Jewish community of Greater Phoenix should be proud of the support it gives to this region. And, when planning a trip to Israel, we hope more and more members of our community will take the opportunity to visit our friends in our partnership region”.
Shelly and Moshe Lipowich from Tucson came to visit the partnership region on June 19th. They began their morning visit with Roni Keidar from Netiv A’ashara and Oshrat Barel, the next shlicha for Tucson. After a fascinating conversation with Roni Keidar about a different way to work with Palestinians, they met with Tal Golan, director of Mossad Shikma, an after- school program for teens at the secondary school on Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. The Mossad, annually hosts the 8th graders from THA, when they visit Israel. They discussed new ways to connect the schools because of Shelly’s experience working with teen. After that, Shelly and Moshe met with Yossi Peretz, the Director of Kiryat Malachi Community Center, and gave him a handmade hanukkiah made by Moshe from cacti. The menorah will “take part” in next year’s Hanukkah celebration and illuminate partnership intercontinental conference calls!
The Saperstein family, Cindy, Charlie and their children Elliot (27) and Chelsey (24) from Phoenix visited the partnership on July 3rd which was highlighted by a delightful meeting with the cooks that visited the communities 3 years ago. The women were really excited to host Cindy as she had a major role in their Phoenix experience. (Cindy used to be on the Partnership steering committee as the Phoenix P2P representative.) Also, the family designed and illustrated their own hamsa in Vered Otmi’s workshop in Moshav Gea. Vered shared with the family her experience during her visit in the US a year and a half ago as part of the artists’ delegation. The family also visited the senior day center in Kiryat Malachi and was impressed by the varied programs for the city seniors that the center has to offer.