Atlanta – Ra’anana Sister City Committee

Date of Affiliation: 2001 Chair: Arnold Heller Web Site: www.arnoldheller.org Contact: bettydavis@mindspring.com

  • Ra’anana is in the heart of the Central District, located 15 miles north of Tel Aviv.
  • The population was about 80,000 in 2013 – Israel’s tenth largest city
  • It is bordered by Kfar Saba on the east and Herzliya on the west.
  • The majority of residents are native-born Israelis; a quarter of the population are immigrants from the Americas, Europe, and South Africa.
  • Ra’anana’s is home to many leading global companies and local start ups. It was designated a Green City award by the World Health Organization in 2005.

Ra’anana Profile

Ra’anana is known locally as ‘Little America’ because so many settlers came from New York. By the 1947 War for Independence, it was a village of 3,000 residents. In the 1980’s, Ra’anana was declared a city and occupies six square miles.

Ra’anana’s industrial zone in the north of the city is home to the Renanim shopping mall and many high-tech companies that include Emblaze, Hewlett-Packard, NICE Systems, On Target Communications, SAP and Texas Instruments. In addition, Microsoft’s head office in Israel and Amdocs are located in an office complex at the eastern edge of the city, close to the Ra’anana Junction. Ahuza Street runs through the city from east to west and is lined with shops, restaurants, and a cultural center.

Ra’anana is renowned for its excellent school system – there are twelve elementary schools, ten middle schools, and eight high schools. The world class K-12 Music Conservatory opened two years ago to nurture young prodigies. Ra’anana is also home to the Open University and Ra’anana College.

Ra’anana Park is the largest in the Sharon

District – it offers walking and bike trails, sports fields, a zoo and children’s petting center, and a lake which is surrounded by special gardens. The Founder’s Museum presents the story of Ra’anana’s original settlers in diorama’s that capture the city’s frontier spirit.

Ra’anana is home to the Lowenstein Hospital, a national rehabilitation center. The main soccer club of the city is Hapoel Ra’anana – Bnei Hasharon is the best basketball team and plays in the Metro West High School. With a large population of American expatriates, the Ra’anana Express were an inaugural team in the Israeli Baseball League.

The Atlanta—Ra’anana link

The Atlanta – Ra’anana Committee formed out of a student exchange between North Atlanta High and Ostrovsky High School in 1998. At that time, Dr. Arnold Heller, applied to the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission for Ra’anana to become the proclamation was signed as a seventeenth sister city highlight of the 2001 Sister partnership. Cities International

Convention in Atlanta. The first twinning mission took place from May 11 – 17, 2001. The Atlanta – Ra’anana link The second took place on July celebrates its thirteenth 25 – 28, 2001 when the anniversary in 2014.

Atlanta—Ra’anana activities

Themes and objectives:

The main focus of the Atlanta – Ra’anana Sister City Committee (ARSCC) has been to nurture economic development and facilitate educational, cultural, and athletic exchanges.

In the area of economic development, the ARSCC has worked closely over the years with the American – Israel Chamber of Commerce – Southeast Division (AICCSE) – to strengthen economic life in both cities and regions. Currently there are six Ra’anana based companies that have invested in Atlanta – Amdocs is the largest. Valuation impact of the six companies has been estimated at $200,000,000.

The two cities have engaged in exchanges of all types but very few in recent years. It is hoped that with the recent election of Zeev Bielski, activities will increase dramatically in 2014 and the years ahead.

Sister City signing ceremony at City Hall, Atlanta in 2000.

Highlights in 2013

The focus of the past year was not on planning and executing activities – it was on strengthening the committee’s relationship with integral organizations making up the Atlanta Jewish Community.

For example, Dr. Arnold Heller, on October 16, 2013, met with Michael Horowitz, Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta (JFGA) and Cherie Levitan, Israel Programs. The aim of the meeting was to forge a closer working relationship between the ARSCC and JFGA.

Below: Ra’anana Music Center . Opposite: Beit Issie Shapiro special ed and therapy center in Ra’anana

General activities

The ARSCC members work closely together. We attempt to meet socially at least once a year at a restaurant to strengthen our bond. The ARSCC looks forward each year in participating in the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission Holiday Party – we bring Chanukah foods and religious symbols to the serving table.

Left: Myna Cohen and Dr. Arnold Heller at the ASCC Holiday Party.

Right: Dr. Arnold Heller with President of Masorti Congregation in Ra’anana.

Since ARSCC’s inception, JFGA has focused on its mission to improve the lives of the less fortunate people of Yochneam. Ra’anana has always offered to assist JFGA in uplifting the lives of the city of Yochneam – this may start happening later this year.

Dr. Heller also urged JFGA to include a visit to Ra’anana in the June 2014 Federation mission to Israel. This was achieved – JFGA is organizing for interested mission participants a visit to Beit Issie Shapiro to observe cutting edge therapies and educational approaches for special needs individuals.