It's raining in Tel Aviv and I feel my mind trickling with the drops... so many images, emotions and questions. Landing in Israel always gives me a sense of relief. I have so many questions and frustrations and disagreements and yet in so many ways it is home. Our shared history provides a context and connection that makes each encounter special and amazing.
This trip I come with Robyn Schwager, our Grants Officer, to share our contacts and resources. Staying abreast of the changing landscape of needs, activities and priorities is an ongoing proposition. As this is my last visit to Israel in my current role as CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona I want to make sure that the work is carried on and we don't miss a beat with my departure.
During my first visit to Israel with JCF, five years ago, one of my board members asked me to identify the critical issues. I thought it a rather lofty goal and yet was able to walk away from the visit with very specific recommendations gleaned. Each visit has had the same goal further refining and ascertaining changes and possibilities for our granting in Israel.
People assume that peace is the number one issue, but in fact, while it is always at the back of everyone's consciousness it is not in the forefront. Peace is illusive and there are no solutions that are presenting themselves, consequently Israelis are focused on the challenge of living- education, the cost of housing, and the impact of a split society on government, politics and daily life.
What is most amazing to me is everyone's generosity of time and thoughtfulness. We are meeting with extraordinary people who are inspiring and creative and who have boundless energy to share ideas. We are continually treated as family with hugs and selfies and suggestions for walking, shopping and hummus.
Challenges forthcoming but for now a few photos.
Tracy Salkowitz is a Consultant,activist and the former CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.