My original assessment of perceived strengths of the relationship
were education and economic development as two prime areas for success. At the outset, I would have predicted
that education would have been the ARSCC’s core area, Economic Development
would have followed. It did not turn out that way.
I was a teacher, brought with me a global network of sister schools to connect
Ra’anana schools to, utilized Internet / e-commerce / e-mail in my class well
before the Atlanta Public Schools brought IT companies in to wire the facilities.
Our sister city program was started up because of a student exchange focusing
on global entrepreneurship education.
Expectation: K – 12 Collaborations Up and Down the Line:
envisioned K – 12 collaborations up and down the line with the excellent
Ra’anana School District such as an array of electronic pen pal projects in the
early grades, joint Internet-based science / computer / robotics / music
projects with the middle schools, high school student exchanges focusing on
international business, athletics, arts, religious educational opportunities
and so on. Ra’anana’s school system includes outstanding facilities,
highly professional teaching staff, openness to new ideas, and enthusiasm for
excellence in education. It is my opinion that the Ra’anana schools
meet the learning needs of its students in every nurturing way possible and
perhaps as well as any educational system in the world.
imagined the Hebrew Day Schools in Atlanta and Ra’anana engaging in joint
Hebrew – English language instructional lessons using Skype or conferencing to
teach each other. All of this was doable with substantial resources
available to make it happen. Human energy, focus, persistence, collaborative
will were the variable ingredients, all needed for the long term, fluctuated.
And after a number of disappointments, maybe we gave up a bit too.
Expectation – annual or bi-annual exchanges and participation in Super –
Exchanges in particular. Neither North Atlanta or Ostrovsky nor any other
Atlanta or Ra’anana area schools have ever engaged in a student exchange since
the 1998 joint project. We tried virtually ever year to bring a Ra’anana
delegation over to Atlanta but there always seemed to be a problem that could
not be overcome.
The Intifada terror
campaign fostered insecurity and economic difficulty for Ra’anana families
– and it did. One Ra’anana citizen was killed playing the saxophone at a
Tel Aviv Passover Seder – a suicide bomber killed 76 people that night.
bureaucracy – In 2001, I received a grant to pay for 1 teacher and 4 students
from Ra’anana to participate in Super – Exchange V. Because the school
did not submit its overseas travel request to the Ministry of Education by Dec.
1 – Ostrovsky was a week late – the exchange group was denied participation in
perhaps the greatest student exchange of all time. I appealed to the
Consulate of Israel – they shrugged that there was nothing that they could
Education Trip to Poland – part of the national curriculum – which annually
involved 240 – 270 students and seemed to absorb all resources and attention
needed to send even a few students to Atlanta.
High national Israeli
taxes on air plane tickets that seemed to push the price of travel to Atlanta
beyond the reach of most Ra’anana families.
Ra’anana’s Aviv High
School students competed in the Robotics Competition held at the Georgia World
Congress Center but did not connect with any local public high schools while
JFGA’s commitment to /
emphasis on Yochneam and the financial pressure on Federation to invest limited
resources across the organization’s many important human needs program has
limited support for and interaction with Ra’anana.
Educational collaborations: Both Ra’anana and Atlanta have worked very hard to
implement a variety of learning opportunities for both public and Hebrew day
school students. There are usually only a few teachers in every school
who are inclined to take on new projects – most teachers are often too
busy. When we could find a teacher to take on a project, they always
seemed to move at the end of the year causing the search to start anew come
September. Programs and projects experienced a discontinuity that
has led to a start / stop pattern of new projects. My having retired from
teaching in 2008 further limits my contacts in education.
B’Shevat Celebration (Jewish “Arbor Day”) Project
Example: Proposed Young Madrachim Project
proposal was not acted on.
Aviv High School’s Participations in the Robotics Competition:
Ra’anana hi-tech company sponsored gifted Aviv High students to compete with
other high school teams from many countries and across the U. S. The
Robotic Competition was / is a fantastic learning opportunity for the Aviv
students. The Consulate of Israel always held a reception for the Aviv
young robotics geniuses – the ARSCC always attends and honors the visiting
students with a short speech about the sister cities program.
May 2006 Ra’anana Report to the ASCC:
Mayor Nahum Hofree interviewed by Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2006 –
Vision for his City
Cong. Masorti Ra’anana Rabbi Reuven Resnick addresses Cong.
Shearith Israel in Atlanta Sept. 8, 2006
Economic development has been the ARSCC’s greatest success story – we owed that
mainly to professionals Tom Glaser and the AICC who have assisted more than 45
Israeli companies to do business in Atlanta, Georgia, Southeastern US with over
a $1 billion of investment. Three or more of the companies are
Ra’anana-based including Amdocs, the largest. Ra’anana has twice sent
delegations to ASCC Economic Development Conferences (2006 & 2008).
Mayor Hofree has invited Atlanta Mayor Kaseem Reed to visit Israel and Ra’anana
and encouraged expanded trade. The online edition of the Jerusalem
Post published on September 27, 2006:
Atlanta Sister Cities Economic Development Conference, Oct. 19-20,
2006 – Hosted by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Ra’anana Mayor Nahum Hofree
ARSCC Ladies: L-R – The late Sue Heller, Vice Chair Myrna Cohen, Secretary Rena
Kahn, Int. Affairs Coordinator Lydia Weitzman, Councilwoman Ruth Elram
Ra’anana L – R: Rena Kahn, Lydia Weitzman, Councilwoman Ruth Elram, Mayor Nahum
Hofree, Arnold Heller, Myrna Cohen, Dr. Cedric Suzman.
Hofree visited Congregation Shearith Israel and Rabbi Hillel Noori along with
Councilwoman Ruth Elram, Lydia Weitzman.
Hofree, Dr. Cedric Suzman, and I attended a meeting with JFGA Director Steve
Rakitt. The Mayor, aware of Federation’s commitment to serving Yochneam,
delicately approached Mr. Rakitt about expanding interaction with Atlanta’s
sister city in Israel. Mr. Rakitt responded that “he already had a wife”
and could not have a “girl friend” too.
decades of war and conflict has left a sizable portion of Israel’s military
disabled, subsequently, the country has pioneered in treating and training the
disabled. Athletics became a natural outlet for disabled citizens to
compete and enjoy the pleasure of sports participation (swimming, basketball,
track, gymnastics just to name four).
was proposed that this model therapy center concept be transported to Atlanta
for the benefit of our disabled citizens. The following invitation was
Ross Mason was a cycling enthusiast who while riding the Silver Comet Trail,
had a severe accident and tragically lost use of his legs. Ross led his
short welcoming speech off with; “When I was biking, I had a 43 inch chest and
28 inch waist, now it’s the reverse.” Ross, an advocate for the proposed
Sport Center, presented himself as Atlantans who could greatly benefit from the
center. Mr. Mason introduced five visiting Israeli athletes aged 15 – 25,
self-described “regulars at the Center”. The athletes, two of whom were
in wheel chairs, appeared fit, happy, and self-confident. The ARSCC is
proud to have been a part of this proposal and relishes the day when this
sports center is built.
pride in pioneer past displayed in Founder’s Hall presented joint project
opportunities with The Bremen at the Selig Federation Building and the Atlanta
History Center to share best practices:
United for Israel – Standing with the Jewish State – Building bridges between
the Christian and Jewish Communities
2000, the growth of Christian Holy Land Tours to Israel has been enormous and the
Evangelical Churches have organized pressure on Congress to support Israel
politically, economically, militarily. The ARSCC recognized this trend,
has been reaching out to Atlanta’s great evangelical churches the past decade,
and been represented at the annual Night to Honor Israel rallies since 2007.