Over the period of Covid, Partnership Together (P2G) provided us with many meaningful virtual programs that connected our local Jewish community in northern Indiana with our friends in Western Galilee in Israel. This June, we were so happy to be back live and in person to meet our friends in Western Galilee as part of the Temple Israel tour of Israel led by Rabbi Shoshana Feferman.
In our visit to the region, the staff of P2G for Western Galilee, headed by Director Jonny Whine together with veteran staff members Avital Ben-Dror and Heidi Beinish, organized a wonderful afternoon for us in this amazing area of Israel.
As we know, Western Galilee is a highly diverse region of Israel where the population is comprised of a mix of Arabs, Druze and Jews. Its public institutions-especially Galilee Medical Center- reflect this incredible diversity. They are a model for what peace could look like one day in the Middle East.
Yet, in spite of the ethnic diversity of the region, these different groups need more opportunities to interact. That is where the Akko Center for Arts and Technology (ACAT) helps to fill the void. Thanks to the P2G staff, we had a fascinating visit to see this cutting edge program.
According to its website, “ACAT promotes a shared society in the North of Israel by providing professional vocational training programs in various fields…Adults and youth, Jews and Arabs are exposed to high-level, professional and educational opportunities and to a place for dreams to come true.”
In the beautiful ACAT center, Arab and Jewish children come together to learn photography and 3-D Printing. Adults can learn a variety of professional skills including Accounting, Bookkeeping, Tourism Management and even Manicure and Pedicure.
Later in the day, we were treated to an amazing dinner program organized by the P2G staff in the beautiful Partnership center located on the shores of the Mediterranean near Rosh HaNikra, just a few miles south of the border with Lebanon.
Thanks to the generosity of the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana, the Temple Israel tour group enjoyed a wonderful dinner program with friends from Western Galilee. The activities organized by the P2G staff included the program, “Israel in the Living Room” a virtual program that was recently co-sponsored by P2G and the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, with participation from members of Jewish community in South Bend.
Based on the idea of guided conversations between American-Jews and Israelis on themes of mutual interest, the purpose of Israel in the Living Room is to build relationships between our two communities. Here we were having the privilege of doing it in live and in person.
At our table, Shoshana and I interacted with our friend Tania Ronen, a longtime resident of Western Galilee. Through our conversation we made an amazing discovery.
Just earlier in the day, our group had toured the British detention camp at Atlit, south of Haifa, where the British detained “illegal immigrants” who the Haganah tried to smuggle into Palestine before Israel achieved statehood in 1948. We learned that Tania’s mother, a survivor of the Holocaust, was amongst those who were detained at Atlit. It was a very moving experience to hear her story that made history come alive.
This is what Partnership Together is all about. It is through these personal encounters between American-Jews and Israelis- whether virtual or in person- that we learn about the history of our people, the things we have in common, and make lasting friendships. It is Partnership Together in action building Jewish peoplehood.
Community Relations Director