In my last Two Shekels, I alluded to the upcoming visit to San Diego of the new Mayor of Sha’ar HaNegev, Ofir Libstein. Our Israel & Overseas Committee Chair, Larry Acheatel, recaps his exciting and productive visit below. Larry has been instrumental in the building of our partnership with Sha’ar HaNegev and frequently advocates for ongoing and sustained relationship building efforts between our two communities. I know Larry’s passion and vision motivates all of us to deepen the people-to-people relationships that have been the hallmark of this partnership for 21 years.
We are so grateful to Larry and to Miri Ketayi, our Director of Israel & Overseas, for their efforts in putting together such a dynamic schedule for Ofir. During his whirlwind 3 day trip, Ofir met with more than 100 members of our community and participated in more than a dozen meetings. New relationships were established as well as the foundation for many years of exchanges and deeper partnership and friendship. And, while many of these meetings were first time encounters with the Mayor, it was clear that we are all family. What better way to reaffirm our commitment to this partnership than to spend time together, face to face, talking about our collective future. Mission accomplished!
San Diego Welcomes New Shaar HaNegev Mayor Ofir Libstein
Last week Ofir Libstein, the new mayor of Shaar HaNegev and his Director of International Relations and Partnerships, Ifat Porat, spent three days in San Diego. Recognizing the importance of the San Diego/Shaar HaNegev partnership over the past twenty years, leaders of both San Diego and Shaar HaNegev believe it is important to renew our mutual goals and purpose. San Diego has many new communal leaders (Federation, JCC, Rabbis, etc.) as does Shaar HaNegev (mayor, new administration, high school principal, etc.)
Ofir and Ifat met with many groups over their 3 day visit. It started with meeting the Women’s Philanthropy Board of the Federation and continued with donors, Federation staff, SouthUp donors, Federation Executive Committee, Agency heads and community rabbis.
Ofir, Ifat, Michael Jeser, David Bramzon and Darren Schwartz also spent considerable time with high level representatives of San Diego mayor, Kevin Faulconer. They discussed many ideas for deepening engagement between the City of San Diego and the region. The upcoming international Maccabi games, to be hosted by the San Diego JCC will also provide opportunities for partnership initiatives.
One common thread that was spoken in all of these meetings was the need to deepen and widen already strong people to people connections. This will be accomplished through organized trips to Israel, encouraging individuals and families who go to Israel to visit Shaar HaNegev, youth exchanges, professional exchanges, bringing Shinshinim (youth ambassadors from Israel) to live in San Diego for a year as they work with our synagogue, day school, and camp youth.
While exhausting for our visitors and San Diegans alike, the trip culminated with tremendous energy, creative ideas, and commitments to deepen the work that has already been started. Sha’ar HaNegev is truly our home in Israel.
by Larry Acheatel, Israel & Overseas Committee Chair