Postcards from Israel – Cleveland goes on Birthright!

January 3, 2013 at 9:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Hi Everyone!

The Cleveland Birthright trip has been amazing! It’s only the third full day here and the group (many of which traveled alone not knowing anyone prior) has meshed and bonded quickly – it’s been really great watching so many friendships form. Today we travelled to our Partnership region of Beit Shean. We were greeted with the words “Welcome Home” by Lior, Dror and Tomer (Lior was wearing his “CleveLAND that I Love t-shirt) for a morning bike ride through Beit Shean’s Spring Park. We saw the beautiful land and the kibbutz farm.

We then split into groups to spend some time at three homes – we were hosted by people from Ethiopia, Egypt and Iraq. The homes were lovely and the hospitality and warmth was incredible. Continue Reading Postcards from Israel – Cleveland goes on Birthright!…

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!

Voices from Israel: A Sense of Independence by Adam Baratz

June 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | Leave a comment
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For my summer internship, I am working to start a community garden in Beit She’an (Cleveland’s sister city). Beit She’an is a city in Northern Israel. This week I am receiving an intensive course on community gardening. I am receiving training with Dani Frakdin, a guru in the field.

During the week, I live with Dani and his family. Dani lives in Mevaseret, a town at the outskirts of Jeruslam. I should note that this is no ordinary family. A passerby might label them as hippies, but such a label would be off mark. The Fradkins cannot be categorized.

An analysis of the physical structure of Dani’s house helps to show the unique nature of the household. The Fradkins are all about self-sufficiency. For starters, Dani and his six children constructed an underwater water reservoir beneath their house. Rainwater that falls from the roof is channeled into the reservoir. This structure provides the family with all of their non-drinking water needs. Additionally, Dani has built much of the furniture in the house. Outside of the house, one can pick fruits, vegetables, and herbs in a beautiful garden. Lastly, food is often prepared in a homemade mud stove, located outside of the house.

Thus, independence is a very important theme in the Fradkin household. Their understanding of independence differs greatly from the common understanding of independence. Instead of emphasizing independence from parents, family, or responsibility, the Fradkin’s emphasize independence as self-sufficiency.

As a person who values this form of independence, I am pleasantly surprised by the family’s level of self-sufficiency. This is the first time that I have seen a family actually live a Thorauean lifestyle. Over Dani’s tool-shed, a sign reads, “One who hears will forget. One who sees will remember. One who does will do again.”

Unsurprisingly, my week is therefore filled with very little “hearing,” a bit of “seeing,” and a lot of “doing.” I can confidently say that I am learning more in this single week, than in any other week in my life. Each day, I learn a new skill with Dani. I learn, not by watching, but by doing. To be brief, I have built: a wooden stool, a mud-oven, two concrete pools, a bench out of tires, terraces, stairs, and a walking-path.

There is something very rewarding about the act of creation. It is fun to see a pile of raw materials transform into a finished product. Coming out, you feel like you have a sense of ownership over the finished product. Instead of holding commercial value, these objects hold sentimental value.

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