Harry Berman, Springfield, Illinois
I first heard the term ‘community of interest’ in the late 1990s, the early days of the development of online learning at the University of Illinois – Springfield. I remember very well one of the UIS faculty members who was an ‘early adopter’ organizing periodic meetings of faculty who were experimenting with what was then the new application of technology to instruction, namely use of the World Wide Web to create virtual classrooms.
According to the definition provided by Wikipedia, a community of interest is a gathering of people assembled around a topic of common interest. Its members take part in the community to exchange information, to obtain answers to personal questions or problems, to improve their understanding of a subject, to share common passions, or to play.
Among its other aims, Partnership2Gether fosters the development of communities of interest among the 16 US partner communities, Budapest, and the Western Galilee region of Israel.
Of course, the pleasure of participating in communities of interest sponsored by the Partnership is the opportunity to connect with other Jewish people with whom we share common interests or life experiences. For example, because of the P2G Book Club, I’ve had a chance to share the experience of reading well-selected books not only with fellow readers in Springfield, but also with avid readers in Indianapolis, Peoria, Northwest Indiana, to name just a few of the US communities, along with our friends in the Western Galilee. Similarly, through my involvement with other Partnership-sponsored communities of interest, I’ve gotten to know a fine physician from Austin and a gerontological social worker from Ft. Worth, as well as several staff members from the Western Galilee Medical Center. Other communities of interest have been built around music, art, education, and children of Holocaust survivors. Café Olam is a conversational language club, with groups that meet to build language skills in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Arabic, and Hungarian.
Take a look at the Partnership website www.westerngalilee.org.il to learn more about these and other Partnership programs, or click below to be taken to the Partnership list of engagement opportunities: