Jewish Agency marks 20 years of city twinning

The program links around 450 communities in Israel and around the world through 46 established partnerships. “

THE BAHA’I Gardens in Haifa. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
THE BAHA’I Gardens in Haifa.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Hundreds of Jewish leaders and activists gathered in Jerusalem on Tuesday to mark the 20th anniversary of one of the Jewish Agency’s flagship programs, in which Israeli cities are twinned with Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora.
The Partnership2Gether program was established in 1996 in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod-UIA, and includes the agency’s Global School Twinning Network and small business loan funds program for economic development in the periphery.
The program links around 450 communities in Israel and around the world through 46 established partnerships. “Ten thousand volunteers work to build meaningful connections between the communities by addressing residents’ core needs, engaging in exchange programs, and fostering a common Jewish identity,” according to the agency.
Jewish figures from across the Diaspora are participating in the anniversary festivities, as are mayors and council heads from across Israel, and dignitaries like President Reuven Rivlin, former president Shimon Peres and agency chairman Natan Sharansky.
“From the establishment of the State of Israel, through the ingathering of the exiles, to the liberation of Soviet Jewry – all of the Jewish people’s greatest achievements over the past century were made possible by the partnership between Jews in Israel and around the world,” Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post in an email on Tuesday.
“Today, it is important for world Jewry to partner with Israel in order to secure its future, and it is important for Israel to partner with world Jewry in order to appreciate its place within the greater Jewish story.
Partnership2Gether is the best platform we have to reach every Jewish community around the world and every town and region in Israel, connecting them to one another and strengthening the enduring partnership between Israel and the Jewish world.”
The agency has placed an increasing focus on Jewish identity promotion in recent years, announcing last week that it is starting a recruiting drive to increase the number of young Israelis it sends as campus emissaries on universities in order to “expand significantly the number of emissaries all over the world,” according to Sharansky.
According to a spokesman, the agency is seeking to recruit dozens of people to serve at institutions of higher learning in the United States, South America, Europe, South Africa and other locations in an expansion that will see the aliya organization field some 100 emissaries at approximately 450 campuses.