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.

Ra’anana is also home to Beit Issie Shapiro, a world class institute dedicated to providing innovative therapies and education for people with special needs.  Beit Issie has developed a special relationship with Atlanta’s Marcus Center.

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 seventeenth sister city partnership.

The first twinning mission took place from May 11 – 17, 2001. The second took place on July 25 – 28, 2001 when the proclamation was signed as a highlight of the 2001 Sister Cities International Convention in Atlanta.

The Atlanta – Ra’anana link  celebrates its thirteenth anniversary in 2014. anniversary on July 27, 2014.

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

Atlanta—Ra’anana activities

Aug14 2014
Above: Dr. Arnold Heller with Commission Mayoral Appointee and Ra’anana Committee member Dr. Cedric Suzman, at the ASCC Atlanta Airport sign unveiling.

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.

On March 1, 2014, Dr. Heller met with Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul to discuss Sandy Springs twinning with Yochneam to help JFGA improve the development city’s quality of life.  Ra’anana is ready to assist Yochneam in developing an eventual sister city commission and program and work with both the City of Atlanta and Sandy Springs in establishing this vision.  For more information, please visit www.arnoldheller.org/sister-cities/blueprint-for-establishing-sandy-springs-sister-cities-commission-program.html.

A 2014 highlight was the June 2014 Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta mission to Israel that included a visit to Ra’anana.  JFGA mission participants that visited Ra’anana toured the Beit Issie Shapiro Center to observe cutting edge therapies and educational approaches for special needs individuals.

June 23, 2014: The Atlanta – Ra’anana Committee participated in the grand opening of the National Civil and Human Rights Museum located in Centennial Park.

Above: (L-R) Roberta Sher Dobbs, Arnold Heller and Rena Kahn at the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission holiday celebration.

August 14, 2014: The Atlanta – Ra’anana Committee and the Atlanta Sister City Commission celebrated the installation of a information kiosk in the new International Terminal of Hartsfield – Jackson Airport.

Dec. 18, 2014: Dr. Heller addressed the Hebrew Order of David, a Jewish fraternal men’s organization that is associated with B’nai Torah in Sandy Springs.  The subject was the history and work of Sister Cities International, the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission, and the Atlanta – Ra’anana Committee.  The proposal for Sandy Springs twinning with Yochneam and sharing Ra’anana with the City of Atlanta was presented and was extremely well received.

Jan. 8, 2015: The annual Holiday Party was postponed from its normal December date and rescheduled for early in 2015.  Arnold Heller, Rena Kahn, and Roberta Sher Dobbs represented the Atlanta – Ra’anana Committee at the celebration.