Monday, November 9, 2009

A new vision for the partnership

Friendship to Family: The Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership October 30, 2009 Ashkelon, Israel
by Saralyn Elkin and Dr. Jeffrey C. Miller

reprinted here From the Baltimore Jewish Times

More than five years ago, the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the Baltimore Jewish Community launched the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.

We wanted to build a bridge between our community and the community in Ashkelon, but since its inception our partnership has become so much more.

For the past week, a delegation of community leaders from Baltimore was in Israel meeting with our Ashkelonian partners and planning the future of our relationship and work together.
The world has changed since our Partnership started and we wanted to take the opportunity to plan our future from a place of strength.

There is so much from our Partnership that we can be proud of:

* More than 3,000 people have traveled between our communities, building relationships, friendships, and strengthening our global Jewish community.

* Volunteerism has catapulted among teens in Ashkelon from 900 only a few years ago to more than 5,000 today thanks to the launching of AMEN.

* Together we built the Lyn Stacie Getz Playground, which is a monument to the vitality of our Partnership.

* In its first year, the Shinshinim program brought faces of Ashkelon to thousands of Baltimoreans, and the reach of the program is continuing to grow.

It is not enough simply to rest on these and other accomplishment. Our Partnership has so many more opportunities to reach out and touch the lives of the people in both of our communities.

As we sat together with our Ashkelonian partners, we discussed how our communities will work together to make each other stronger. Whether it is strengthening Jewish identity, promote living by Jewish values, or helping each other in times of need, we are working together towards an even brighter future.

One of the most empowering outcomes of our mission and the strategic planning process that we are in is the fact that in Baltimore and Ashkelon new voices are being heard and new ideas are being shared.

Our partnership has never been stronger, and we are even now serving as a resource to other communities as they seek to strengthen their connection with Israel.

In our closing session, one of our Ashkelonian partners said, “In the five years of our partnership, we have grown from being a “new friendship” to being a family.”

There is little more that can be said. If you want to read about the entirety of our mission, you can visit

Saralyn Elkin and Dr. Jeffrey Miller are chairs of the Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership.

More information on the Associated is at Friends from Baltimore and Ashkelon, together in the Lyn Stacie Getz Park in Ashkelon
Marc Terrill presents Mayor Benny Vaknin with a check to fund an Ashkelon kindergarten, to be specially fortified against kassam rocket and other threats.

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