On a Sunday evening, November 3rd, Hannah and Allen King hosted an annual event dedicated to Dror Israel for the East Bay Jewish community. In previous years such events have been coordinated in warm partnership with the East Bay Jewish Federation. However, in light of structural changes that the organization is currently undergoing, the event was made possible this year thanks to the deep friendship of two important partners and their families to Dror Israel and the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz.
“It’s amazing that you can fly ten thousand kilometers, to the other end of the Earth more or less, and walk into a room and feel completely at home, surrounded by people who understand you, believe in you, and support the work that you are doing. That is the experience I have every year when I arrive in East Bay, and specifically tonight I feel it stronger than ever, to sit in front of you, people who I know personally and have made friends with these past few years – it gives me great strength,” said Roei Tau from Dror Israel in his opening remarks.
Allen King, without whom the event would not have been made possible, offered the following account of the evening and East Bay’s special relationship with Dror Israel and the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz.
“Steve and Vicki Zatkin along with Allen and Hannah King hosted an informational and fundraising event at the Kings’ Berkeley home in early November. The theme of the evening was a display of photographs taken by a Dror Israel educator, who teaches photography, and also some photographs taken by his students. They were unique snapshots that showed the varied cultures in Israel as represented by individuals and, in some instances, people with their favorite animals: An Israeli Arab on her stallion, a Bedouin herder with his goats, a random couple caught at the moment they were posing for a selfie with their exotic parrot on a beach. There were also photos taken by students from a Dror school.
The photos were displayed around the room where attendees learned about Dror Israel’s current activities, its future aspirations and its focus on building a civil society through the education of at-risk youth and communities. Education outside of the classroom was the main focus of the presentation by the three Dror Israel representatives, Zohar, Roei, and Michal.
Then, Steve and Allen spoke of their connection to Dror Israel. Allen told of the Israeli folk dance session he taught at the Rehovot dance studio built by Dror members where the participants experienced stories of the early Chalutzim and the building of Jerusalem in biblical times through the steps of the dances they learned.
Some of the attendees asked perceptive questions, such as what actual impact has Dror Israel had on Israeli society? Was it achieving its mission in the “real world?”
One answer resonated with a former donor. She was inspired to make a new commitment after she heard the story of how the Dror kibbutz in Akko prevented a repetition of a riot that had occurred when Yom Kippur coincided with one of the Eid al-Adha, the former a very solemn occasion and the latter, an extremely joyous celebration. Kibbutz members collaborated with the different religious communities in Akko to educate their own members about the other’s holiday and to respect each other’s practices during their holidays, preventing a recurrence of a riot without the need of police presence.
It was stories like this that showed Dror’s positive impact on Israeli society. Attendees to the event left inspired. And, the event exceeded its pledge goal in support of Dror Israel’s mission.”
Most who attended the event did not go home empty-handed. Rather they left carrying one of the moving photographs displayed throughout the evening. The event really wouldn’t have been possible without Steve and Vicki Zatkin and Allen and Hannah King who did so much to make the evening a success. The deep and special partnership between them and Dror Israel truly sustains and galvanizes us for the future.