Partnership2Gether Program Creates Family Connections in Israel

In May 2014, I participated in the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School's Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone Israel trip and spent three weeks volunteering at the Neve Michael Children’s Village in Pardes Hanna. I was having a conversation with the village’s librarian, and we talked about what I was doing there and how I learned to speak Hebrew when she asked: “Nu, when are you making aliyah (moving to Israel)?” I responded to her that I was not planning to make aliyah. She frowned and said, “What’s the point of learning Hebrew if you are not going to make aliyah?”

This gap in understanding between Israeli and Diaspora Jews goes both ways. More and more Diaspora Jews visit Israel on Birthright and other immersive experiences in Israel, and they report feeling more connected to Judaism and Israel through these experiences. But then, when we have our Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) ceremonies in Nashville, as an example, despite these events being publicized across the Jewish community in all our usual channels, the people in attendance are almost entirely Israelis and people who have family in Israel.

I want Diaspora Jews to feel like they have family in Israel. I want Israeli Jews to feel a deep, personal connection to the Jewish community outside of Israel and an appreciation of what it means to be Jewish in the Diaspora. I want Jews in the United States and Jews in Israel to remember that our relationship with one another goes far deeper than politics or what any government anywhere may say or do.

This is why I am so excited to be the new Partnership2Gether (P2G) Southeast Consortium Coordinator. The P2G Global Network is a project through the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) that connects Southeastern Jewish communities in Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, and the Carolinas and the Jewish community of Prague in Czechia to the Hadera-Eiron region in northern Israel (which happens to include Pardes Hanna and the Neve Michael Children's Village where I volunteered 10 years ago). In this role, I will be coordinating the affiliated Diaspora communities and working with my Israeli counterparts to put together these activities that bring our communities together and instill within us a stronger feeling of אחדות achdut (unity) between Jews all over the world.

Whether they be teenagers on our Get Connected trips, young professionals in our Leadership2Gether (L2G) exchange program, or families and young couples hosting teenagers from Hadera-Eiron in the US and Czechia, this regional partnership has been building meaningful relationships across borders and continents for many years. I am excited to get started and for our Nashville Jewish community to be a hub for Jewish connection and collaboration across the globe.


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