Our relationship with the Youngstown Jewish Community started three years ago, when the Thomases Family Endowment decided to support the activities of the Akko Shared Existence Center. This initial connection has gradually developed into a deeper partnership.
We first met with Sara Wilschek at the beginning of 2017, when she impressed us with the youthful, vibrant energy of the Youngstown Jewish Community at the Partnership 2000 Western Galilee Steering Committee meeting.
Myra Benedikt, who got to know us from up close, wrote the following about the Akko Educators' Kibbutz: "The Akko Educators’ Kibbutz does the kind of meaningful, powerful work that has a positive and lasting impact on Israeli society."
Less than a year later, we were invited to visit Youngstown, and stayed with Sara Wilschek from the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, where we presented the Akko Educators' Kibbutz activities to the Federation's board.
We described the Asefa Yisraelit (Israeli Assembly) activities of the “Remember Rabin’s Assassination, Struggle for Democracy” coalition, and about our project to acquire a building for the Educator's Kibbutz to house members and activities. I remember that Deborah Grinstein was very excited by our work, and in particular by the Shared Society day camp for Jewish and Arab kids supported by the Thomases Family Endowment.
"It was great to meet and get to know the wonderful people in the Youngstown Jewish community," shared Mirit Sulema, a member of the delegation. Mirit was particularly impressed by her visit to Akiva Academy, the Jewish Day School there, which is committed to providing a Jewish education to children in the area while taking into account all of their unique needs. Her accounts of the visit to the school were such that we all felt we had visited there ourselves.
This year, after becoming familiar with our Capital Campaign to purchase a building to house members and activities, they decided to offer a generous contribution to aid in the success of our flagship project as well as all of our projects in Akko.
This partnership has not come about by chance; this is the way we see ourselves connecting with all communities and organizations in Israel and in the Diaspora. It is clear to us that the Youngstown Jewish Community and the Akko Educators' Kibbutz have created a true partnership, and a meeting of hearts, between the two communities.
We would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Andrew Lipkin, Sara Wilschek, and Deborah Grinstein, who showed us the meaning of a Jewish heart, partnership, and responsibility, and of the endless possibilities that come with true partnership