More than a dozen Americans and Israelis met recently in Israel to strategize plans for the TIPS (Tucson, Israel, Phoenix, Seattle) Partnership2Gether project for the coming year.
Tucson volunteer Gail Ben-Jamin (known to her Israeli friends as Gila) and Oshrat Barel, the future shlicha or Israeli emissary to Tucson, participated in the meetings, held April 30 to May 2.
“This was my first TIPS/Partnership2Gether meeting in Israel,” Ben-Jamin told the AJP, “and I was amazed at the organizational skills of all those involved. Each of the communities had ample time to present its past achievements and future goals. It was my first time to visit Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon, and I was impressed with how the partnership has helped to improve the lives of these communities, especially the young adults. Achieving goals is much easier when the tasks are spread out among more people, so I am hoping that our committee here in Tucson will grow. Anyone with an affinity for Israel would probably love to work with us. I have made what I know will be lifelong friends in Israel because of my volunteer work with Partnership2Gether.”
Besides participating in the planning meeting, Ben-Jamin had housed one of the Israeli artists who came to Tucson in February 2012, Yehudit Ogorinsky, who returned her hospitality in Israel last month. While in Israel, Ben-Jamin also visited with Roni Keidar, who spoke in Tucson in March as a guest of the Weintraub Israel Center. “She lives a kilometer and a half from the Gaza border. We walked over there and I placed some tiles on the peace mural” created by another Israeli artist, Tzameret Zamir, says Ben-Jamin.
The TIPS budget planners reaffirmed the following core projects in Israel for the coming year:
• Youth leadership councils in Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon;
• A mini-soccer league for teenage boys and three basketball teams for girls, which have proven to reduce delinquency and increase regional pride and cohesiveness;
• An umbrella organization for teens and the arts in Kiryat Malachi, which has brought pride to the town and increased respect for teens. The dance troupes and the bands have received regional and national recognition. Army veterans have returned to the town because of the arts programs available;
• A young adult leadership program in Kiryat Malachi. The city plans to partner with the group to help retain young adults in the community.
People-to-people projects were discussed for each city, including continuing Tucson’s successful speaker program.
Other proposals include Hof Ashkelon’s plan to participate in a three-day hike on the Golan trail during the next Pesach vacation (just before Passover), inviting anyone in the Jewish communities of Tucson, Phoenix and Seattle to join them. Visitors would be hosted for a few days before the event in private homes. Members of the U.S. TIPS communities planning an Israel trip are also invited to visit either Hof Ashkelon or Kiryat Malachi and spend a day with a local Jewish family. For more information, contact the Weintraub Israel Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.