Suellen Kadis Blogs from Israel – Day 1

October 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Voices from Israel | Leave a comment
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Our group on Day 1 was me, Suellen Kadis, Chair of Women’s Philanthropy, Larry Kadis, OCC Chair, Cindy Attias, Partnership 2000 Chair and Oren Baratz, VP of External Affairs and Director of Overseas Operations.

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Right off the plane at the airport, we had our first meeting with Hannah Aharony, Director of ISHA, the Women’s Health Initiative, and Patrick Levy, Director of Healing Across the Divides. ISHA is the Women’s Health Initiative started by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland 10 years ago, which works to improve the health of women in Israel by teaching physicians, nurses and other health care workers about the unique and special problems that are frequently overlooked in women. HATD is a Boston-based non-governmental organization working in Israel to bridge the gaps between different segments of Israeli society. Hannah and Patrick are working together in the hopes of creating a new partnership that Cleveland Federation may participate in through the OCC and Women’s Philanthropy. The possibility of moving forward with this new venture is very exciting!

Next we headed north on Highway 6, which now connects the north and south in Israel. In 90 minutes we were at Gesher Kibbutz having lunch and discussing the development of regional tourism in the Valley of the Springs and City of Beit Shean. The valley and the city are beginning to work together to create “packages” so that a visitor from Israel or overseas could easily enjoy a few days in the area with plenty to do. Ideas such as bike tours, bird watching trips, and Bar Mitzvah celebrations were discussed as possible marketing tools. Many good ideas were shared and hopefully in the not too distant future this beautiful area will be on everyone’s must see list in Israel.

In the afternoon we saw the new community garden created with the help of Bridge to the Future and the local residents in the neighborhood. Adam Baratz, Oren’s son, spent last summer working with local volunteers encouraging the community to clean up and take responsibility for the space. Now there are trees planted – and we each planted another one – and a clean place for residents to gather and play. What Bridge to the Future accomplished was to empower the members of the community to get involved and realize that they can make a difference in their own neighborhoods. Many other projects like this are currently in the works. The ongoing transformation is remarkable to see.

After checking into our bed and breakfast and a short rest, we walked to Dream Café for a dinner meeting. We met with Ido Shalem, Director of Bridge to the Future, Dr. Idan Porat from Technion and Dana Robbins from Zionism 2000. We discussed the sustainability of some of the different programs and ways to measure success. Human, social, economic, political and infrastructure capital will be measured and a model will be developed. The details of much of it were lost in my sleepy head, but an update will be shared at the appropriate time, I’m sure.

We were happy to collapse in our beds after a full first day!

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