Today is August 15, 2018 -

I have a secret

I have a secret. It is a secret that we have kept for the last seven years. A handful of people may know about it and I began informing a select few over the past few months, but it still might be the best-kept secret in Northeastern New York.

Since 2006 our Jewish Federation has worked with the Eshkol Region through Partnership2Gether (P2G), a program akin to a sister-city relationship. The Jewish Agency for Israel, one of our key beneficiary agencies, created the P2G program to connect regions in Israel with communities around the world. The secret is that Northeastern New York does not need a partner–it is the people within it who need partners.

We have started a new initiative, officially named “Our Living Bridge,” but unofficially called, “People to People.” Our goal is to create relationships amongst our people, to learn from each other, and to visit one another. Here are some of the efforts currently underway:

  1. Nico Werboff, a resident of Eshkol, joined Federation in March of 2013 as a community shaliach (emissary). Nico is involved in many of our events, working with residents both young and old. He has already begun infusing our community with Israeli culture, with a special emphasis on life in Eshkol.
  2. We have initiated a pen-pal program with junior high students in Eshkol. My seventh grade daughter, Bina, who arrived in Israel today for her cousin’s upcoming bat mitzvah, is looking forward to meeting her pen-pal when we visit Eshkol on Monday.
  3. Last week six members of our group went to Eshkol for an overnight visit. Each one of us was hosted by a local family, and we joined together at Nico’s aunt’s home for a fantastic barbeque.
  4. We met with representatives from the Eshkol partnership steering committee. I spoke for a few minutes about my vision for the relationship, specifically regarding how special it is for people in Northeastern New York to have cousins in Israel to visit. To my surprise, the committee then presented us with a beautiful menorah now on display in the front lobby of the Jewish Federation, with a plaque that reads: Chanukah 2013, From Your Cousins in Eshkol.
  5. Marc Ehrlich, Federation’s chair-elect, beautifully summarized our time in Eshkol by saying how special it was to see a part of Israel through the eyes of her residents, and not through the windows of the tour bus.

What is on the horizon with our cousins in Eshkol?

  1. On Monday my family will be joining me in Eshkol.
  2. Next week, our Partnership chair, Randy Shapiro, will be visiting Eshkol with his sister.
  3. On December 5, Northeastern New York’s mission to Israel will spend the day in Eshkol touring and visiting our cousins.
  4.  Over Presidents’ week vacation in February, Federation is sending a group of teens to Eshkol for a week-long visit with their Eshkol counterparts. They will enjoy home hospitality and have an amazing time. Please click here for more information.
  5. After all of our trips, we will be ready to regroup. We are looking forward to welcoming home our community members and inviting them to share their experiences and enthusiasm by joining Federation’s steering committee. The secret is out of the bag!
Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York

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