San Antonio mayor Julian Castro.
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, Texas, signed a memorandum of intent on
Tuesday with Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tzur, alongside representatives of
healthcare development corporations BioMed SA and Bio- Jerusalem.
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who arrived in Israel on Sunday, is leading a five-day mission and has brought
with him a delegation of city, business and religious leaders from San Antonio
for a series of meetings with politicians, industrial figures and other
“Israel is setting a very high standard, particularly in
sectors which match up well with San Antonio’s strengths,” Castro told The
Jerusalem Post. “We’ve signed a broad agreement today to promote collaboration
in business development as well as research cooperation.”
spoke about what he described as the “warm relationship” between the Hispanic
community in his city, which comprises more than 60 percent of the population,
and the Jewish residents, who number approximately 9,200.
“There is deep
mutual respect between the Hispanic and Jewish communities in San Antonio,” he
said, pointing to the fact that a number of leaders of nation-wide initiatives
aimed at bringing the two groups together come from San Antonio.
months ago we held the Bridges and Pathways conference to foster relations
between Hispanics and Jews in the city. Hispanics have the experience of being a
minority and an immigrant population, which the Jewish community can truly
The issue of illegal immigration is one of the hot topics in
San Antonio, as well as in the southern US in general.
Rabbi Barry Block,
head of the Reform community of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio since 1992 and a
member of the mayor’s delegation, said that among the Jewish community there is
widespread agreement that a path to citizenship needs to be found for illegal
“We understand ourselves what it’s like to be an immigrant
community, because we were strangers in the land of America,” Block
“We are very concerned about the rights of immigrant workers and
We do need a system whereby we can control our borders,
so the walls should be high but the gate should be wide.
“We need to
understand that the people who are coming to our country today are coming for
the same reasons our ancestors came to the US – for opportunity.”
visited the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, where he was given a guided tour,
and stopped at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall and other
religious and historical sites.
“Visiting the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre was one of those moments in life which you definitely remember, and I
was very awed by it,” he said.
The delegation visited Yad Vashem after
Tuesday morning’s signing ceremony. The mission will head off to Hadera on
Wednesday to tour the desalination plant there, and Castro will meet with
President Shimon Peres on Thursday.