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11.28.14 Issue

by Mark Kirchhoff, Center for Jewish Life

Dec. 8, the Center for Jewish Life will welcome a “Visionaries Delegation” from Israel through its Partnership2GETHER Program. Partnership2GETHER is an extraordinary global platform connecting some 550 communities around the world in 47 partnerships. It is a program of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Federations of North America. Omaha’s partnership promotes personal relationships between the Central Area Consortium (12 U.S. Jewish communities) and Israel’s Western Galilee (Akko and Matte Asher) through cultural, educational, social, medical and economic programs. Partnership2GETHER (P2G) builds living bridges among our communities. Sharing ideas, strengths, challenges and models of success and empowering all communities to generate waves of change, the impact of these programs goes far beyond the community level — each of us has the opportunity to become directly and personally involved.

Our guests have distinguished themselves in a number of areas. Dr. Janan Farraj-Falah, a Druze woman is a researcher in the Jewish-Arab Center at Haifa University and heads the Gender Department at the Arab College for Education in Haifa. She was the first Druze woman in Israel — if not the Middle East — to receive her Ph.D. Diana Bletter is a writer based in the Western Galilee who received a National Jewish Book Award for her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women. Her writing appears in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and Tablet, among others. Kineret Hadar is the legal adviser of the Akko Municipality and Akko Economic Corporation. She leads the legal department of the municipality, which provides legal advice on all problems arising in the course of the municipality’s activities. Galit Aviram-Cohen is manager for the Western Galilee village Gita who has helped establish various forums for women living in the Matte Asher Regional Council. She is also a member of Queen of the Desert, a tour group which takes women on jeep tours to various places around the world, and is the owner and also a tour company owner. Also traveling with the group will be Noa Epstein-Friedman, the Israeli Arts and Regional Development Coordinator for Partnership2GETHER.

Tuesday, Dec. 9 from 1-2 p.m. in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library, Dr. Farraj-Falah will join Omaha’s Community Shaliach, Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan, for his monthly Eye on Israel session. Following Eliad’s monthly update on happenings in Israel, Dr. Farraj-Falah will discuss the Druze community and its activities as it relates to not only terror attacks, but also everyday life in Israel.

On the evening of Dec. 9, a panel discussion, The Rich Tapestry of Israel’s Western Galilee, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library. The Western Galilee, home to about one million people, has the most diverse population in the Middle East. Each delegate will share insights about day-to-day life in the region and talk about her area of expertise, sharing the unique and creative ways in which she is involved in helping develop opportunities for the diverse populace.

In addition to the programs above, the delegates will participate in individual meetings, enabling them to connect with those of similar interests in Omaha. The group will visit the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies at UNO. At the conclusion of the Omaha visit, they will travel to Des Moines before returning to Israel.

In April of 2013, we welcomed a similar delegation of visionaries. In the group was Uri Yirmias, chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, hotel owner and developer, known for his exceptional cuisine and massive grey beard. While in Omaha, he had an amazing experience at Metropolitan Community College’s Culinary School, having lunch and a full tour of the facility with chef-instructor Brian O’Malley.  For many years, Uri has mentored at-risk youth through apprenticeships at his restaurant. Uri was so impressed with teaching of the culinary arts that he was able to implement that type of training with his kids — some of whom have now gone on to have restaurants of their own.

Eye on Israel and the panel discussion are open to the community, free of charge. Omaha’s Partnership2GETHER programs are coordinated by the Center for Jewish Life. For more information on Partnership, call 402.334.6445.