The celebration was filled with speakers, a take off on "The Amazing Race", as well as song and dance. What was so gratifying was how much of a role our partnership played in the celebration. Among the entertainment were the dancers that performed at our local Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration this past April. An example of the role our Federation played was to fund the creation of "Art City" which brought together what had been separate clubs involved in song, dance and music. Our initiative brought these groups (along with dramatic arts groups) together under the auspices of one coordinated performance troupe.
During the celebration, it was fun to see a "rock band" made up of teenagers, performing with young singers and fabulous dancers, which together created an amazing spectacle for all in attendance. During the performance, I asked our Israeli staff person if I had a right to feel the kind of pride I was feeling and his response was "absolutely". It was truly a one of a kind experience that I don’t think I will ever forget.
After spending our final Shabbat (for this trip) in Jerusalem, which is always a highlight of travel to Israel, we began to pack our bags for our move to Kiryat Malachi. Upon our arrival we receive a friendly welcome by others living in the same complex. We are now looking forward to our time in Kiryat Malachi as we prepare to spend some time volunteering. Our first assignment will be at one of the local schools where we, including our children, will have an opportunity to help local youth develop their English skills. We also hope to work with some after-school programs that will enable us to interact with some of the families who live in this community. I anticipate that this opportunity will certainly add an important element to our experience here in Israel and for my children, especially my eldest, to understanding in very real terms what it means to be part of a Jewish people worldwide.
Jacob, son of Adam (president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix) and Stacey Schwartz, became a Bar Mitzvah at Yad Mordechai. This kibbutz in our TIPS Partnership Hof Ashkelon region was the site of an important battle during Israel’s War of Independence. Jacob conducted a Monday morning service, chanted the Torah portion and led a discussion on the d’var Torah. He gave his interpretation of the Torah reading, first in Hebrew and then in English, to the surprise and delight of everyone, especially the Israelis. Yair Farjun, chair of the Hof Ashkelon regional council, presented the celebrant with a copy of Pirke Avot, and a group of Ethiopian women prepared lunch afterward. These women had visited Phoenix and Tucson as part of the TIPS Women’s Ethnic Cooking Project last fall, when Jacob struck up a friendship with them, leading them to offer to cater his simcha. Also, thanks to modern technology, the celebrants were able to Skype the entire service back to family members in the United States