Part V: Building Bridges with Our Israeli Partners

Through this series of articles, you will learn how Federation’s wide-angle lens approach is making our community stronger, more inclusive, and more vibrant.


These days many of us find ourselves enmeshed in struggles over how North American Jews and Israelis seem to be moving farther apart on issues of Jewish identity and expression.


Federation’s Global Connections department is committed to bringing together our Greater MetroWest Jewish community with our partners in Israel and in Cherkassy, Ukraine, and to build powerful connections.

  • We support Diaspora Jews in communities around the world, partnering with The Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to provide assistance for the world’s struggling Jews.
  • We bring Israelis here and send our community members there. Each year, a delegation of shlichim and rishonim (young Israeli emissaries) come to Greater MetroWest to teach about Israel at day schools, synagogues, and events throughout the year. At the same time, we provide Israel study and travel opportunities for all ages.
  • We work with our three partner communities in the Negev, helping them empower local leadership and create an environment which will attract young people and businesses to develop the region.
  • We encourage shared society in Israel, supporting programs not just for Israeli Jews but with other members of Israeli society. Last year we brought a delegations of Druze women and men to Greater MetroWest to forge stronger relationships.
  • We offer a variety of leadership programs for community members interested in enhancing their commitment and support to Israel. These include The Peoplehood Project and Partnership2Gether, as well as programs based around common interests like an International Book Club, Cycling2Gether, and Yoga Connections.
  • Our Federation Missions department runs enlightening and inspiring trips to Israel and elsewhere each year. The Greater MetroWest commUNITY Mission to Israel just brought 475 people to Israel for a once-in-a-lifetime experience learning about the ways we make an impact there.



You can find out more about Federation’s Global Connections offerings at www.jfedgmw.org/global-connections.

Connecting on the Yoga Mats


Since 2009, yoga instructors from Greater MetroWest have volunteered their time to teach yoga in our partner communities in Israel. They spend a week each November with both children and adults in schools, community centers, and elsewhere, making connections with those they teach and with one another.

“The Israelis didn’t know what yoga was,” said Leslie Gurland of this first experience. Now, the program that started at one school in one town has grown to many sites throughout Ofakim-Merchavim and Kibbutz Erez. And those they are teaching, teach others.

One of the Israeli teachers is Olga Shkliaryk from Ofakim. Ten years ago, she signed on for training through Federation’s Partnership2Gether (P2G) Yoga Connections program and has been a yoga instructor ever since. After a yoga visit to Greater MetroWest, Olga returned to her school with a new motivation. “Gradually yoga classes became part of the life in my school. In addition to better health, we saw educational results as well: helping students with ADHD focus, calming the children in class, and, most importantly, addressing the trauma and stress many of us in the south of Israel experience due to the frequent emergency security situations.”

“The partnership between Ofakim-Merchavim and the community of Greater MetroWest erases borders and connects people, making them ‘Divine sisters and brothers.’ Namaste to all!” –Olga Shkliaryk

Olga is excited to see the evolution of the Yoga Connections program over the years, not only for the gift it has provided to the children and entire community of Ofakim, but also for the personal connections she has made with her Greater MetroWest counterparts. “We meet, we take interest in one another, and we share the good and the bad. The geographical distance no longer matters.”