July 16, 2001

What did YOU do on July 16, 2001? You probably don’t remember. Most likely, you had yet another ordinary summer day.

Yet, for some people, this day means a lot. It could have been a life changer, perhaps even a lifesaver for them.

Since we just celebrated the 18th anniversary of this date, let me recap it for you:

Look at the crazy itinerary of the day: 
I’ve kept it framed in my office ever since. It reflects so much of who we are as a community: 15 stops throughout the country... 4 partnership regions... 5 mayors. Many achievements and endless unmet needs. Even for the craziest Missions junkies, this was an extremely hectic, almost inhumane, day.

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The first site visit on this crazy itinerary:
At 9 a.m. we visited Kibbutz Erez. This was the moment. Our first community visit to Erez. It was the very beginning of the second Intifada. The Kibbutz needed us – they didn’t have even one proper safe-room. We needed them – we were looking for tangible ways to engage our community with Israel and tell the story of the Gaza region. A true, beautiful partnership took root that morning.

Look at the photo taken 9:25 a.m.: 
You might recognize David Saginaw, then incoming Campaign chair of our Federation; Barbara Drench, then Women's Philanthropy president; and Adam Schwartz, then Campaign Director. This photo shows a (much younger looking) Amir, me, passionately lecturing (unchanged) David and Barbara about the possible threat of rockets from Gaza, months before the first one was even launched.

Look at the letter that we received from the mayor a few days later: 
It ends with a prophecy: “Your decision to visit Erez was an admirable, correct, and successful one, and I very much hope that it will grow into a real partnership.”

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Look at where we are today: 
Barbara, as active, spirited, and dedicated a community leader as ever, visited Erez again last week. Pictured here with our Greater MetroWest Israel team, she saw unbelievable resilience and growth – a new neighborhood full of children, along with dozens Greater MetroWest footprints in form of reinforcement and quality-of-life projects, lots of Greater MetroWest visitors. It’s a vibrant and busy “living bridge.”

Erez is celebrating its 70th birthday and is a proud member of our extended partnerships community of Negba, David is our Federation’s President Elect, and me? I am just the story teller, saying, in honor this Chai occasion, “Am Israel Chai.”