On February 21, 2013, the Kiryat Malachi/Hof Ashkelon Partnership2GETHER was honored to welcome a small delegation from the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona (Tucson) comprising the Federation director, Stu Mellan, his wife Nancy, and Diane and Ron Weintraub. Their visit consisted of examining some of the projects that Tucson supports both through supplemental gifts and with their regular allocation to the partnership.
The visit started in Hof Ashkelon, where they met with staff and students at the Morasha Public Religious Elementary School where the Tafnit program (to close the gaps between the weakest students and the rest of the class) has been operating for more than 8 years. After that they met with Zamert Zamir an artist at Netiv Ha’asara who recently started a project for visitors to build a gigantic mosaic out of pieces of pottery and stone spelling out the word “shalom” on the massive anti-sniper wall separating the moshav from the border with Gaza. The group ate lunch with Sara Haitman and Vered Otmy, local artists who were part of a Partnership2GETHER artist delegation who brought their talent to Tucson and Seattle communities last year. They were also joined by Carol Talmon, a member of thePartnership2GETHER steering committee from Phoenix and by writer and lecturer, Adina Bar El, from Moshav Nir Israel (Hof Ashkelon), who had also visited the communities this past autumn as the first speaker of the speaker series of the Partnership2GETHER.
On the second part of the visit they met with Yaffa Cohen, the director of the Welfare Department in Kiryat Malachi, to hear about the situation of Ethiopians and other populations in distress and how the Tucson contribution to maintain an Ethiopia expert counselor had rescued families and individuals on the verge of destruction. A discussion was also held with a psychologist who tests children who need an examination in order to be able to receive support for learning problems from the government. Other discussions were held with the directors of the Senior Day Center about the supportive community project that allows seniors to lead an independent life in their homes; and about the vehicle that transports seniors to programs. Then they met with Yossi Peretz, the new director of the community center (Matnas) who explained how Tucson’s contribution of scholarships allows children from low income families to attend afternoon programs and summer day camps. Following a visit to the impressive music center where the Partnership2GETHER Art City musical bands are based, the group visited with the “Acharai” pre-army program which prepares high school students for leadership and for the physical and mental challenges of the army.
During the last part of the visit, as the slogan of our partnership say “My home away from home”, the group got a warm home hospitality in Yossi and Edit Peretz’s home in Kiryat Malachi and enjoyed delicious authentic food. It also was a big opportunity to discuss together with members of the Israeli steering committee many different issues from how we see the future of our partnership to what kind of a program will strengthen the connections between the partnership communities.
A great day was had by all!