Sunday, March 1, 2009

TIPS Trip Boosts Morale, Programs

TIPS Trip Boosts Morale, Programs
Report from the Field
by Ken Miller

When the conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip escalated and hundreds of missiles and mortars began landing in southern Israel it became very tentative whether we would be able to hold our annual meeting for the TIPS (Tucson, Israel, Phoenix and Seattle) Partnership 2000 in Israel. A number of the members, including me and fellow Tucsonian Ken Brandis, felt it important to travel to our partnership region of Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon in Israel to show our solidarity. with Israel and with our friends and co-workers. In the week before our January 29 departure, the military situation de-escalated enough for our Israeli associates to agree that we could.

Our first night in Israel, the eight USA TIPS representatives joined some 30 of our Israeli counterparts for an informal dinner. One Israeli member, who resides in a community bordering Gaza that has been shelled for years, stated how moved she was that Americans had come to the region at this time. Knowing the impact our trip had on Israeli morale was enough to make the annual meeting a success - even if we did nothing more during our visit.

We stayed in a hotel in Ashkelon, Israel’s largest city in the south and an area often targeted by Hamas. I was just about to get into the shower when the missile attack siren sounded. A missile landed not too far from the hotel. Luckily no one was injured from this attack but the attack brought home the reality of what our friends and Israel were experiencing. I am a US Air Force veteran and was in Israel during the wars in 1973 and in 2006 but others were seeing for the first time what war was like.

Our meetings focused on TIPS efforts empowering youth, developing young adult programs, establishing educational opportunities at all levels, addressing the needs of the poorer communities and helping to address psychological counseling for children growing up in a war zone. During the current crisis, emergency funding helped transport children and teens out of the war zone into areas where they could experience less stress. In quite a few of the communities in the Hof Ashkelon region, bomb shelters were the only place where the children could safely gather. Tucson raised money for the emergency purchase of heaters to equip the shelters for extended periods.

Seeing the immediate changes in the lives of the children, youth and older citizens in the region evokes much more than a satisfying feeling. Each time we visit, we see how effective the TIPS Partnership 2000 organization truly is - and how much more we can still accomplish.
NOTE: The above is a piece Ken Miller wrote for the Arizona Jewish Post and the blog, about the trip and meeting for the TIPS Partnership in February.

Facebook has links to all Ken Miller's photos from this annual meeting with the 2nd Art City, Festival B'shekel and last year's 2008 Annual Meeting which has the 1st Art City.

To see Ken Miller's photos: please add the "TIPS Partnership 2000" to your Facebook groups,

The photo albums are listed as links you can click on, which puts you into Ken's photo album section under Ken's Facebook page. You can see the photos by adding Ken's name to your friends list. The url to Ken's page is or you can find Ken's name in the search as "Ken Miller" location of Tucson.

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