Just a few weeks ago, my husband, David, and I travelled with the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership mission to Ashkelon. We had some amazing experiences: learned traditional Ethiopian dancing at an Ethiopian English class funded through the Partnership, worked with teen volunteers who address pressing social needs in Ashkelon, enjoyed home hospitality dinner with our friends in Ashkelon and participated in many other great experiences.
It is amazing to see the growth and connections developed over the past 10 years of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. When we started visiting potential Partnership communities in Israel 10 years ago, Ashkelon was the fourth city we visited. It had all the components we were looking for. There were opportunities to engage people of all ages, create personal friendships and develop volunteerism in both Ashkelon and Baltimore. The best word to describe our first time in Ashkelon was “comfortable.”
We had a goal of this Partnership to grow a long solid friendship among the two communities and strengthen Jewish peoplehood. This past mission solidified the fruition of this goal. On this most recent mission the joint Partnership committee came together to make allocations decisions face-to-face. When we visited the Ethiopian English class, we were excited to see how many students’ lives have been enriched by this program and decided to continue to support this wonderful initiative.
The delegation also visited some amazing projects supported by THE ASSOCIATED, such as the inspiring “Wings of Krembo” program, a youth movement for children with special needs, led by teen volunteers involved with the Amen program. Through this program, the Partnership has instilled a culture of civic duty, leadership and volunteering.
I can sum up this Partnership in one phrase, “K’lal Yisrael.” We are all one people. Through this Partnership, we have been able to connect Jews across the world. We have been able to exponentially grow teen volunteerism in Ashkelon, support one another through challenging times and connect individuals, families and organizations in Baltimore and Ashkelon for a lifetime of friendship and connection.
For more information on the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, visit baltimoreashkelon.org.