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Des Moines Israel Solidarity Mission

Hana Rogers, President-Elect, Jewish Federation Board of Governors

June 2021



I’ve never been involved in a trip to Israel that was designed and executed without months of advance planning. This trip was planned in 72 hours and took place within two weeks of that planning. Then again, I’ve never been on a trip to Israel tasked with a very specific mission.




Our mission was to go to Israel to show our community’s solidarity and support for our friends and partners in Israel following the violence sparked in the Western Galilee by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, specifically with our Partnership2Gether colleagues in Akko and Matte Asher.

Witnessing the destructive aftermath of the violence that took place, particularly in Akko, was extremely difficult and very emotional. It was hard to comprehend that, in this community where Christians, Muslims, and Jews have lived and worked together for more than 50 years, the progress made and the trust built could be unraveled in two short days.



My last trip to Israel was in 2013, and we toured many wonderful places in Akko, fully appreciating the beauty and historical significance of numerous sites there. It’s such an old city, with an amazing history. On this trip, seeing the burned out shells of beautiful restaurants, hotels, and museums, as well as many other Jewish businesses, was almost like a physical blow—certainly a mental and emotional shock. But, perhaps even more difficult, was witnessing the disillusionment of some of our partners who have made Partnership their life goal. Seeing and hearing them try to make some sense of these events and how to move forward was absolutely heartbreaking.


While we had many good conversations with business and community leaders, who remain committed to moving forward and rebuilding based on the premise that we have no choice but to continue to move coexistence forward, it is clear that the trust and relationships built over many years have been shaken to their core. How do you move forward when you are no longer sure who you can trust? How do you continue on when you suddenly become aware that the person who has owned the business right next door to yours for years might harm (or allow to be harmed) you or your business? I don’t have the answers to these questions, and I know that our friends in these communities are greatly disturbed by and continuing to struggle with this issue. While time and perspective may help facilitate processing of these events, there is no denying that the impact and trauma caused by these events will remain for the foreseeable future.




For our part, we were able to communicate to them—you are not alone. We hear you, we see you, we support you, and we are here for you. We carried our message regarding how these recent events in Israel have taken a toll on U.S. communities as well, in the form of the escalation of anti-Semitic violence. They were horrified to hear this, and offered us their support as well. They wanted us to know that they were here for us and ready to help however they can.

While I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know what the ultimate result of these recent events will be, I do know that whether Israeli or American, we are Jews—we need each other and we are here for each other. We stand with each other and for each other. We are all in this together.

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה

KOL YISRAEL AREVIM ZEH LA’ZEH - All of Israel Are Responsible for One Another


Pictured above from left: Elisha Flax, Sharon Chait, Bob Goldberg, Shahar Gal, Rabbi David Kaufman, Jeff Lipman, Andi Lipman, Bracha Zuriel, Hannah Rogers, Rabbi Emily Barton, Sue Harris, Gil Klempert, Noa Tene, Noam Schlanger, Heidi Benish, and Albert Ben Shloosh.

 

PARTNERSHIP2GETHER (P2G) —YOUR DIRECT CONNECTION TO ISRAEL

Partnership2Gether (P2G or ‘Partnership’) is a program of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Federations of North America. The vision of P2G is to build a global and united Jewish people made up of a tapestry of strong, lively, flourishing and interconnected Jewish individuals, families and communities working together to enrich Jewish continuity, identity and cultural understanding between Jews in Israel and their peers around the world. The Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines partners with 16 U.S. communities (The Central Area Consortium), Budapest and Israel’s Western Galilee.

Through task forces such as Arts & Community, Education, Academics, Medical and Resource Development community members create stronger relationships and acquire greater knowledge between our communities.


OUR PARTNERSHIP2GETHER COMMUNITIES:

Buffalo, New York; Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown, Ohio; Peoria, Springfield, Illinois; Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana, South Bend, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Texas; and Budapest, Hungary are linked with Akko and Matte Asher in Israel's Western Galilee region.

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