Har Zion Synagogue in Penn Valley was the setting for a festive 10th-anniversary celebration last Sunday. The social hall was decorated. Guests enjoyed food, drink and dancing to the music of the Sally Mitlas Orchestra. It was a fitting tribute to the successful marriage of two partners -- the Jewish community of Greater Philadelphia, and the Jewish communities of Netivot and Sedot Negev in Israel.
The shiddach between the communities was made by the Jewish Agency for Israel, in cooperation with United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod under the aegis of Partnership 2000. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has derived many benefits from this partnership, which is designed to build living bridges between Diaspora and Israeli Jewish communities.
"Together, we have worked on projects that have enhanced the region's educational and economic development and, in the process, we have given Jewish Philadelphians a rare opportunity to forge a personal connection with Israelis," said I Michael Coslov, Federation Campaign chair and co-chair of the Center for Israel and Overseas. Coslov emphasized that these positive connections have resulted in the construction of three facilities: The Kaiserman Family Spiritual/Cultural Center for Ethiopian Immigrants; The Tanenbaum Music Conservatory; and the Robert Saligman Early Childhood Development Center.
The Honorable Yechiel Zohar, mayor of Netivot and Meir Yifrach, head of the Sedot Negev Regional Council, both attended the anniversary reception and expressed their gratitude for the financial support it has received from Federation's Israel Emergency Campaign. These funds have helped the communities meet critical needs for additional security in the aftermath of the summer 2006 war with Hezbollah.
Coslov, chair of the Partnership 2000 Committee, suggested that one of the most gratifying aspects of the partnership is the opportunity for Jews on both sides of the ocean to meet face-to face. Since 1998, approximately 4,000 Philadelphians have visited the region, and 400 regional residents have visited here through participation in a variety of missions and exchange programs.
The Philadelphians and their Israeli counterparts -- Yechiel Zohar and Meir Yifrach -- received Global Friendship Awards for their efforts to strengthen connections between the Partnership areas.
For more information about Partnership 2000, call 215-832-0837 or visit the Federation Web site at: www.jewishphilly.org .