It’s one of the most active Israeli weeks of our year. This last week we had six separate delegations of young adults crossing our ‘living bridge’ between Greater MetroWest and Israel.
• Our Diller teen fellows are in Israel. We had to postpone their visit from the summer during Protective Edge. Now they’re there with their Israeli peers and making us proud.
• 19 high school students and teachers from Merhavim high school are here this week in New Jersey, hosted by Golda Och Academy. It’s part of a series of encounters between the two schools, a unique model of partnership that we started some ten years ago.
• We have a group of twenty teens from Arad/Ofakim going to various communities in New Jersey this week. This is a great partnership with our JCC of Central New Jersey, hosted by local teens and their parents. It’s also the first time we’ve had a joint program between two of our Negev partnerships, Arad and Ofakim.
• For the first time ever, we’re sending five college students from local campuses, including Rutgers, to Israel, as a single group. They’re hosted by their Israeli peers and are joining activities on the Seminar Hakibutzim College.
• We have a Birthright bus from our community. Did you know that our Federation is one of the largest funders of the Birthright program from anywhere? It’s a great investment in building Jewish community and identity; we’re proud to partner with them.
• And finally, we have twenty young adults from NJ, Israel and Cherkassy, Ukraine, spending a week together in Israel. They’ll be learning in the ‘Seminar Kehilati’ from each other about community and Jewish responsibility, meeting with local emerging leadership, and creating seed projects as part of a concept of ‘global Jewish belonging.’ More on this to come.
Hundreds of people on both sides of the ocean are involved in these encounters, bringing our communities closer. Our Israel Center team, on both sides of this living bridge, are doing amazing things along with our colleagues in Federation and our agencies and schools to make this week happen.
When I visited Israel the other week and spent time in our partnership communities, one phrase kept recurring. “We are Greater MetroWest.” And it wasn’t said (just) by the New Jerseyites who were there. It was also said by the Israelis.
This week showed us how true that statement really is.