Bernice Malka, Living Bridge Coordinator
Seven leading Missouri state legislators, along with several other Jewish and Missouri business leaders traveled to Israel to better understand Israel’s leadership in life sciences and develop a deeper understanding of the country and its security and geo-political challenges. The trip was co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and MOBIO, the Missouri trade association for the biotechnology industry, encompassing medical and agricultural technologies. This was the first trip to Israel for each of the legislators.
On their second day in Israel the distinguished group visited St. Louis’ partnership region of Yokneam-Megiddo. They were greeted by Mr. Simon Alfasi, Mayor of Yokneam who shared the challenges of leading a development town into becoming one of the leading cities in Israel through ongoing investment in education and local industry. Local members of the Ethiopian community joined to tell about their participation in family empowerment programs funded by the Federations and how they have been impacted by this support.
Hanan Erez, Mayor of Megiddo regional council shared the story of the Kibbutz movement throughout the years and its contribution to the establishment of the state of Israel. The delegation had a short tour of Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek and heard about the uniqueness of the Biospheric zone.
Both mayors said that they were honoured by the visit of such an important delagation in the region and thanked the St.Louis federation for creating this connection.
Representitives from the local Hi Tech industry joined the delegation for dinner and were proud to share their companies’ achievements as well as their involvement in the community.
We knew that the dinner was a success when after business cards were being exchanged over deserts, the room was still live with conversation and no one was in a rush to go to sleep, even though it was late and after a long day. We always said that the secret ingredient for our partnership was the people-to-people component!
The next day, before heading to Jerusalem, the delegation met with a colonel from the IDF to see first hand the anti terror fence located on the border of the Megiddo regional council. During the visit inside the army base the delegation understood the importance and the contribution of the fence to the security of both populations, the Israelis and the Palestinians and some of the security issues the IDF is facing these days.
We hope the rest of their visit in Israel was meaningful and enjoyable!