Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lasting Effects of TIPS Projects--part1

Dovrat H from the community of Nitzan in Hof Ashklelon was a participant in the second Ethnic Flavors group whichcame to the US in the fall of 2010. Although there were seven participants, six from Hof Ashkelon and one from Kiryat Malachi, Dovrat only knew one other--Liat, her friend and business partner-- who also lives in Nitzan. Dovrat's triplets were about eleven years ago when she traveled to the US for almost a month together with the group. Her husband with support from neighbors and family helped with the triplets while she was away.

Now, more than two years later, Dovrat sat with us on Shabbat and told me how much the experience has influenced her life and that of the other participants.

Before they came to the United States, they met as a group regularly, at least twice a month for six months. 
Picture taken before departure for the U.S.
  They had clear expectations before the trip.  One was to develop friendships with Americans in the Jewish communities of Tucson, Phoenix, and Seattle. Their goal exceeded beyond their expectations.

Although several in the group had previously traveled to the US, this trip, where they were hosted in homes and worked with people in our Jewish communities, broadened their views of the Jewish world and also helped them see how similar we are as Jews, even though we live so far apart.

After they returned to Israel, they shared their experiences informally with their family and friends and formally with presentations in their communities.

Here are some of the long-lasting results from her visit to the U.S.:

First of all, she met new people from the vicinity whom she would never have had a chance to meet if it were not for this program. They bonded and the group of seven still meets once a month to socialize and do a variety of small projects.

Second, they have maintained contact with people they have met in the US. They are in contact via e-mail and delight in the friendships. 

When some Jewish from those 3 US cities have come to Israel, Dovrat and the other 6 in the group host them in their homes and/or visit them elsewhere. 
Gathering with visit from Seattle in May, 2011
  Here are some examples.

Barbara from Tucson was in Israel in early January when I met Dovrat.  The group planned to see her and do something special togehter.  Lily from Seattle came to Seattle when her sister died and sat Shiva in the Tel Aviv area.  The women from the cooking group went in pairs to Lily's family's home to visit and support her in that sad time.

Also, they are very welcoming and have hosted others form the US partner cities who have spent time in Israel.  For example, Rochelle from Seatle, her daughter and two grandchildren spent a memorable afternoon and evening with Liat's family.  They ate together, climbed the local sand dunes, and swam at the beach, then Liat's children taught the visitors how to play an Israeli card game.  Although the children and their mother had spent almost a year in the Tel Aviv area, they was a very different experience for them.  The visit with such a delightful Israeli family was  a highlight of their stay in Israel.

Dovrat and Liat are trying to fine a way to create an enriching experience for future visitors. 

A woman from Seattle plans to spend about six weeks in Israel this spring, mostly in Jerusalem, to learn more about the various types of Jewish cooking.   The TIPS P2P staffer is working with the women cooks to set up a three-day program for her in Hof Ashkelon, learning to cook food from three different Jewish cultures along side the local women, and then share the cooked food with ill children in the local area

Friendships made through mutual interests like cooking are ones that will continue for many years.

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