Four years have passed since I began my journey as your community shaliach (emissary) and Israel Center director and now it’s time to say thank you and goodbye. I want to share with you my deepest appreciation and gratitude for this incredible experience.
For the past four years, the Tucson Jewish community has served as a home away from home for my family and me. So many of you have opened your hearts, homes and friendship to us.
My mission here is over, but not the mission I was born to do. Israel needs you now more than ever as she continues to face new challenges of leadership, education, religion, Jewish diversity and pluralism, social-economic issues, and, because our existence is not something that we can take for granted, ongoing and emerging threats of war from those who cannot live with our existence in the Middle East.
With your support, love and solidarity, Israel can stand strong and overcome these and many other challenges. With your support and the support of the United States government, our best ally, your brothers and sisters in Israel will face whatever the future holds, because we share the same values of freedom, peace, brotherhood, human rights and democracy. Sharing these values, we can stand as one against those who have pledged to destroy our dreams, our beliefs and our way of life.
I’m proud to be an Israeli — proud of our soldiers, teachers, doctors and fellow citizens, Jews who were mostly refugees some 62 years ago who came from the ashes of the Holocaust, who were deported from Arab countries, who built an awe-inspiring country that has made incredible achievements in a relatively short period of time. I am proud to say that there is no other country similar in size on the face of this earth that can make this same claim. It’s because of our achievements in such industries as high-tech, biotech and medical research, and wonderful contributions in sports, the arts and, of course, the most delicious foods!
To all the wonderful people and organizations in Tucson that opened your doors and hearts to me and to my family, thank you.
Thank you to so many extraordinary lay leaders, volunteers and friends. My mission could not have been possible without you.
I would like to also take this opportunity to specially thank people I worked side by side with:
Two special people have a big place in our hearts forever, Diane and Ron Weintraub. Your love, warm hearts, support, and connection to Israel have been extraordinary. Thank you for everything that you’ve done and are still doing, and most of all for being the founders of the Israel Center. As a couple you have built a strong foundation with a connection to Israel through all the shlichim in the past and future.
Thank you Dan Karsch, you have been an incredible co-chair for the Israel Center; what a wonderful support you have been to me. Your love, passion and respect for Israel as well toward me during the last four years have been extremely humbling, thank you.
Thank you to all the chairs, co-chairs and committee members within the Israel Center. What a great group to work with! We put on some memorable events.
Special thanks to all my colleagues from the Jewish Federation and JCC, especially to Stuart Mellan and Ken Light. Thank you both for all your help, understanding, support and above all, the opportunity to serve the Tucson community as the fourth community shaliach. I have learned so much on a professional and personal level from your leadership, much gratitude and appreciation to you both.
I had a great opportunity to work with my special assistant, Tremia Cox, for the last two years. We worked hard on every single program together.
It has been heartwarming to meet so many dedicated community members, whose love for Israel is absolute. It has been wonderful to meet those who visit Israel for the first time and return with a new understanding of what Israel means to the Jewish people. It has been fulfilling to help community members make their first visit, and to send their children for a first time. This unconditional, loving view of Israel is something that will provide strength and inspiration for us as we go back and resume the task of making Israel what we all hope it to be.
I would like to conclude by thanking all members of the Tucson Jewish community for the opportunity to serve as a bridge between the two largest groups in today’s Jewish world.
And finally, above all, I would like to thank the most important ones in my life, my family. To my wife, Sharon, and to my children, Hila, Itai and Noya, thank you for your love and support. Moving here was an adjustment that was not always easy, but without your support and inspiration I could have not fulfilled my duty.
We are now returning to Israel, grateful for having had this wonderful experience and memories. Thank you for coming to honor us and say goodbye before we return home. Your friendship will be forever carried in our hearts. Remember that now you have new members of your family in Israel, the Babel-Pour family. Please keep in touch with us and come visit Israel and us.
Shalom and l’hittraot to you all in Israel,
Moshe and the Babel-Pour family