Down South

I spent the last week visiting our partnership communities in the South. But this time it was a somewhat different visit than in the past. There were lots of painting opportunities, a little yoga, and quite a few animals.
In Ofakim we enjoyed an art class in the Klinghoffer Igloo and yoga with sixth graders at the Ben-Gurion School. Let’s just say that there are some talented kids who can draw better than I can… and pretty much everyone was more physically flexible than this Jewish Federation CEO (shocking though that may sound). But you can come see my finished plate in my office next week and decide for yourself at least on the art question. We also had a wonderful cooking workshop (and a delicious lunch) with Osi Lankry, followed by an impressive visit to the Gymboree, an activities center located in a bomb shelter. All that and time for coffee and a scavenger hunt at the Ofakim Fortress and Cave.
In Arad, we met with inspiring young Gesher leaders and artists, and toured the desert with a local guide. And in Kibbutz Erez we visited the refet (cows), kaveret (beehives), and yekev (winery)… as well as experiencing an overview of the Gaza Strip and Erez’s challenges.
We stayed in a lovely tzimmer (bed and breakfast) and had a wonderful home-cooked dinner in Merhavim. Merhavim also holds the kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) Ostrich Farm, where we did art projects, saw a newborn ostrich emerge from its shell, and got close to rabbits and hares and baby ostriches.
These are just a few of the highlights. But there were many, and I’ll write about more of them later. Here’s the main conclusion I have right now: In every place we visited, we were struck by the warmth, hospitality, and generosity of our hosts and partners. And in every location, we noticed how kid-friendly these site visits are. Over the coming months, as we reorganize our Missions Department under the direction of my colleague Heidi Kuperman, we’ll look to offer more opportunities to bring families with children and grandchildren to see who we are in our partnerships. We’ll look for more opportunities to showcase our partnerships’ work for all generations.
Because we are them. And they are us.


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