A nearly 300-member delegation from the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) “Spark” Israel experience arrived in Israel last week.
Members of the Boston Jewish Federation chose to come specifically to show solidarity and support for Israel. The experience was designed to allow them to engage with a diverse group of Israelis and to share meaningful moments and experiences, as well as learn from one another.
The delegation commemorated Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, and Independence Day while in Israel. They also visited monuments in the three major cities - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa - and met with Israel's President Isaac Herzog.
A 34-year partnership between Boston and Haifa
The delegation began its journey in Haifa, due to the "Haifa-Boston Partnership," a 34-year-old collaboration between Boston's CJP and Haifa. The partnership aims to create an impact on areas of shared society, leadership, and Jewish peoplehood.
The welcome event in Haifa had over 400 attendees, where Haifa Mayor Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem presented the City Medal to Boston philanthropist Bradley Bloom in appreciation of his support and commitment to the city of Haifa for many decades. He is one of the founders of the Haifa-Boston Partnership, Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of Haifa, as well as Co-Chair of the CJP Spark initiative.
Mayor Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem said: "The impact of CJP and the connection of the Haifa-Boston partnership to our beloved city of Haifa is beyond description. Our fruitful collaboration has brought about revolutionary changes in many aspects of society."
"Haifa is a unique city characterized by a multicultural population represented by a number of languages, traditions, and religions that coexist in a shared space in Haifa."Hilla Pearlman-Paniel
Rabbi Marc Baker, CJP President said: "This is a significant period in the shaping of the State of Israel for the entire Jewish people. In recent years, we have faced unprecedented challenges, from a global pandemic to rising antisemitism in America, and we have witnessed extremism, incitement, and threats to democracy here in Israel, in the United States, and around the world. We remain strong and resilient in the face of these crises, thanks to our strong faith, mutual support, and Jewish values, which are the common foundation that unites us."
Hilla Pearlman-Paniel, Haifa-Boston Partnership Director, said: "Haifa is a unique city characterized by a multicultural population represented by a number of languages, traditions, and religions that coexist in a shared space in Haifa. People are the essence of what makes our work so special - because we do it in partnership with communities, professionals, and partners. We work in partnership to promote the optimal absorption and integration of new immigrants, to develop young leadership, to promote social equality and justice, and to strengthen the connection with American Jewry."
The delegation had the special opportunity to spend quality time with volunteers from a diverse set of demographics, Arab, Ethiopian, and Druze, as well as spending some time with olim from Ukraine and Russia. The delegation then spent Shabbat in Jerusalem before heading on to Tel Aviv for some more learning and to experience the beaches of Israel.
The delegation's arrival in the midst of the State of Israel's 75th anniversary, even during turbulent times, signified the strong connection between American Jews and Israelis, creating a sense of shared peoplehood.