Today is February 14, 2017 -
It’s hot, dry, and located on the other side of the world. But the Eshkol Region, a 300-square-mile portion of Israel’s western Negev desert bordering Egypt and Gaza, shares a close connection with Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York.
Since 2006, our Jewish Federation has partnered with the Eshkol Region through Partnership 2Gether (P2G), a program akin to a sister city relationship. Created by the Jewish Agency for Israel, P2G aims to connect a city in the Diaspora with a city or region in Israel.
Each year, any Federation involved with a P2G community has the option to direct 10% of its overseas allocation to its P2G community. Several members of the NENY community have had the opportunity to visit Eshkol and meet with its community leaders. As a result of these meetings, Eshkol has requested that we fund several wonderful projects.
The Our Living Bridge initiative creates programs to link the people of Eshkol and NENY. Many people have visited the region, learning about life in the Negev in an agricultural community, and have greatly benefitted from the experience. We invite you to visit the region on your own or through one of our community missions.
Our Living Bridge program has also established a pen pal program between schools here and in Eshkol, creating bonds between classrooms. Holiday greetings and personal information have been exchanged between elementary school students in NENY and Eshkol, creating ongoing connections. The 8th grade students at Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy visit their counterparts in the Eshkol region during their annual visit to Israel; and many have remained in touch years later. Judy Bar-Ner, the English teacher at Habsor High School in Eshkol, states that her students have learned so much more interacting with our students than she could ever teach in a classroom. Our children enjoy their new Israeli friendships. This is a true partnership.
P2G’s efforts encompass areas from technology to the arts. Our newest initiative is helping the Eshkol region establish and program a Young Adult Center, with hopes of keeping their young adults connected to Eshkol, eventually assuming leadership roles. Another initiative, the Regional Music School Program, provides Eshkol Region elementary schools with music instruction and musical instruments with the goal of teaching each student to play a musical instrument. Our community has already donated more than $10,000 in instruments to enhance the program. We look forward to a video conference where we can watch these young musicians play!
P2G committee chair, Randy Shapiro stated, “In the future, we want our relationship to grow. We will be employing web conferencing to directly relate to our peers in the Eshkol region of Israel in real time. This is true whether two elementary school classrooms study together and talk directly to each other, or whether teenagers in our Day School and youth groups talk to their peers in Israel. We could even arrange for our seniors here to talk to seniors in Israel. The goal is to create an extended family so that we become a part of each other’s lives.”
For more information about the P2G Program with the Eshkol Region, contact Marci Galinkin at 783-7800 ext. 239, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.