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Mission to Israel celebrates Partnership2Gether’s 20th anniversary

By Laura Porter

The crocuses will just be emerging from the snow in New England, but the Southern New England Consortium’s (SNEC) spring mission to Israel, PartnershipTRIP2Gether, promises warmth and conviviality. The eight-day trip, to be held from March 31-April 7, centers around the twentieth anniversary celebration of Partnership2Gether.

Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of North America and run through the Jewish Agency, Partnership2Gether serves as a living bridge, connecting 450 Jewish and Israeli communities in 46 partnerships. The Young Emissary Program, which brings young Israelis to the United States every year, is a program of P2G.

SNEC, which is partnered with the Afula/Gilboa region in northern Israel, includes Central Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts, New Bedford, Greater Hartford, Greenwich, Greater New Haven, Eastern Connecticut, Greater Stamford, New Canaan & Darien, Western Connecticut, Upper Fairfield County and Rockland County, New York.

Led by Federation Executive Directors Howard Borer (Central Massachusetts) and Meredith Dragon (Western Massachusetts), the mission group will spend several days in Jerusalem and then travel to sister city Afula for two days.

The anniversary celebration, known as the Partnership2Gether@20 Mega-Event, will take place during the last four days of the trip. It is based in Tel Aviv but includes programs throughout the country.

The cost is $3,175, a figure that can plummet to $1,675 with the addition of subsidies. SNEC will give a $999 subsidy to the first 40 people who register. Moreover, an additional $500 discount will go to anyone who gives $500 to their local Federation during the next two campaigns and promises to become involved in Partnership2Gether activities.

The price includes hotels, most meals, a guide fee and major touring (it does not include airfare).

“If you book your tickets now to Israel, there are very good prices,” says Howard Borer. “My ticket was $835 round trip from Boston to Tel Aviv to Boston.”

After arriving by the evening of March 31, the SNEC group will tour on its own through April 4.  From April 4-7, they will be based in Tel Aviv to attend the Mega-Event. Hotels will be the Inbal Hotel (Jerusalem), the Lavi Kibbutz Hotel (Galilee), and the Dan Hotel (Tel Aviv).

In Jerusalem on April 1, SNEC travelers will be able to choose from two touring options, one that focuses within the city and the other that also includes the Moslem Quarter. Both tours will end with Shabbat at the Kotel.

On Shabbat, those who elect not to attend services can take part in a scavenger hunt centered around Mishkenot Shananeem, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside of the Old City walls. After visits to the Arab market and the Israel Museum, the group will attend a sound and light show at David’s Tower Museum. On April 3, group members can hear from either IDF Reservist Colonel Bentzi Gruber, who will speak about “Moral Dilemmas Facing the IDF in Their Battle Against Terror in the Southern Sector,” or Gil Hoffman, a senior political correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, who will discuss “The Political Landscape in Israel Today.”

After visiting Yad Vashem and the Government Center, the tour next travels to Afula and the Beit Singer, a home for at-risk children and youth in the Galilee area and northern villages. A program here includes an opportunity to interact with the children, and the group will have dinner with the Afula partners.

The next day, a briefing about security will take place at the Jalame/Gilboa checkpoint between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. After visiting Emek Hospital, the group will travel to Tel Aviv, where they will tour Jaffa and, in the evening, take part in the opening night celebration of the P2G Mega-Event.

The Jewish Agency describes the P2G@20 Mega-Event as “more than a birthday celebration; it is a chance to visit Partnership regions outside your own; explore off-the-beaten-path sites in Israel through the lens of Partnership2Gether; see with your own eyes the breadth, depth, and reach of P2G; witness the creativity and vision of your like-minded colleagues in other areas of Israel and the world; and bring back inspiration to your home Partnership.”

The extravaganza will bring Israelis of every region and Jews from all of the world together in a festival of learning, exploration and celebration.

Over the three days, nine different tracks offer options for travel and learning in the context of programs sponsored and supported by P2G. The tracks include: Living Together: Connecting Communities to Each Other; The Power of Laughter and Collaboration; Cultural Treasures in the Western Galilee; Folklore Tradition and Art; A Community Inspired by the Place; Ecological Innovation in the Wilderness; Transformative Power of Partnership; Family: In Good Times and Bad Times; and Investing in the Future: The Israel Children’s Zone Project.

On the final day, the attendees will learn about a variety of Partnerships and end with the closing event.

Given the current security concerns in Israel, Borer notes, the ongoing situation will be closely monitored.  As of now, the $500 deposit due upon registration for the trip is refundable only until Dec. 31. However, if necessary “we will make changes to the refund policy,” he says.

For more information, contact  Howard Borer at 508-756-1543 or hborer@jfcm.org. or Meredith Dragon at (413) 737-4313 or mdragon@jewishwesternmass.org.

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