Twelve members of the Partnership2Gether Arad Renewal team came from Israel to the local area July 6-13 to “reinvigorate the relationship” between their Negev community and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
The Arad partnership — part of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s P2G program that partners global Jewish communities with Israeli towns — was an integral project of the historic Jewish Federation of Central NJ, before its merger with the MetroWest federation. The Israelis’ visit also served to familiarize those from the former MetroWest community with the program and its people.
Randi Brokman, Israel and overseas associate with the GMW federation’s Legow Family Israel Program Center, who oversaw the visit, said that when the program ended, “all the participants — both Israelis and New Jerseyans — were energized and determined to continue to strengthen our communities and the bonds between us.”
During the week, the Aradniks joined with their GMW counterparts in a host of activities throughout the community. They baked hallah at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield to donate to the needy through the JCC of Central NJ in Scotch Plains. They harvested vegetables at the community garden and organized the kosher food pantry at Jewish Family Service of Central NJ in Elizabeth. And they joined the Shabbatones, the JCC staff band, to celebrate a Rockin’ Shabbat with the JCC’s Camp Yachad. “Hearing the room filled with campers singing ‘Hatikva’ together, as well as kabalat Shabbat blessings, moved the Americans and Israelis alike,” said Eyal Keidar, who, as team chair in Arad, was part of the delegation.
A highlight of the program was the “Southern Exposure” event on July 9 at the Aidekman campus in Whippany. Jewish community members made stops around the room, where the visiting Arad Renewal team members manned tables, each representing an important institution, site, or program in Arad, with the aim of having participants “fall in love” with the Negev town.
Federation president Leslie Dannin Rosenthal and Israel and Overseas chair Paula Saginaw joined Arad Renewal team participants Robin Goldberg of Livingston and Hila Tsachi of Arad at a table to learn about the Aug. 7 half-marathon to Masada, a first-time P2G event for which over 750 people have already signed up.
Ed and Barbara Zinbarg of Short Hills came to Southern Exposure to “learn about and connect to Arad.” At the event, honors were conferred on Marilyn and Gerald Flanzbaum of Hadera and Warren, Janice Weinberg of Scotch Plains, and, in absentia, Freida and Leonard Posnock of Monroe for their past service to the P2G Arad partnership.
The gathering featured Israeli food, wine from an Arad winery, Israeli poetry read by local team members, and Israeli music led by Aradniks on the Renewal Team. GMW Arad Renewal chair Kala Paul said, “The ruach — spirit — in the room was contagious, and the attendees danced the hora joyously to ‘Hava Nagila,’” the project’s unofficial theme song.