Rick and I land in Israel on February 3rd and we are so excited! It's true that I cry at commercials and am easily moved, but I can truly say that nothing inspires me more than going to Israel. It's as if both my lungs and heart expand. I'm overwhelmed at what our people have created and the commitment to our Jewish future.
The dynamic tension between Israelis, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs is never far from my thoughts. Our lens however, is to honor each community and people and try to ascertain strategies and action steps that will move the communities forward together. It is beyond our capacity to lock up the extremists on both sides (though I'd like to). There are many inside Israel working together from each community and those programs are some of the most important programs that JCF supports.
Kids from Hand in Hand
We'll be traveling with the Weintraub Israel Center, but as before we'll be adding visits to some of our grantees and meeting with certain organizations with whom we hope we can develop strategic alliances.
During our last visit, my charge was - find out what are the biggest issues facing Israel from the Israeli perspective. I was stunned when regional peace came in third. The top issues of concern were the relationship and role of the Haredim (ultra-orthodox) to mainstream Israelis and the economy.
That visit had an amazing impact on our Jewish Community Foundation as it helped to shape our funding in Israel. When we identify our priorities we always look through two lenses- 1) What is most needed; and 2) What will see to the future security of the state. I'll be writing about this during the days ahead.
So pack your cyber bag and join us!
Tracy Salkowitz is a Consultant,activist and the former CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.