up a sister city program should not be taken lightly – to make it work is a big
undertaking that takes a decade or two to institutionalize. And then some
still fail. So when a person asks a city to twin with another in a
foreign country, that is a huge responsibility that demands diligence and
follow through. Let me be clear: Expect to incur significant investment
of time and out of pocket expenses or the initiative is unlikely to survive –
forget thrive. Very few sister cities programs are municipally funded or
provided a budget.
ARSCC has achieved a great deal during the past 15 years – we should have been
able to accomplish a lot more. There have been a number of highs and some
lows. I have been enriched immeasurably by my experiences as ARSCC Chair
– have also experienced some deep disappointments. I continue to hang in
there trying to improve things and along with the committee, simply do the best
has been a great partner and I am thrilled to have been a part of this people
to people relationship. Together we have made many wonderful things
happen and failed on occasion, particularly in the area of student
exchanges. Regardless, it is the spirit of sister cities to move forward
and hope that the next year will bring more great new opportunities.
2006 ASCC Economic Development Conference had been successful and the
Commission moved to schedule another for 2008 on the subject of “Green Space and Public Transit Policies”. Ra’anana committed
early in enrolling two municipal representatives.
7:00 PM Official Dinner & Gala at Atlanta City
Ra’anana representatives at 2008 ASCC Economic Development Conference, Lia
Rudnicki, Deputy City Engineer & Mrs. Oshra Koren, a City Council member
and Chairperson of Ra’anana’s International Relations Committee. Ra’anana
is an innovation leader in waste and renewable energies management.
from Ronnie Zandman to Mayor Hofree and Ronit Shoham, International Affairs
Coordinator – Setting the Agenda for 2009
Mayor’s schedule did not permit him to meet Mr. and Mrs. Zandman, I appealed,
Ronit tried again, the day was booked – his schedule could not be changed.
picture of my late wife Sue Heller, an ARSCC co-founder, who passed away
November 21, 2009, after a long struggle with lung cancer.
Hofree sent a telegram to express his and the city’s condolences.
The ARSCC honors Israel’s annual Independence Day Celebrations
decided to visit Ra’anana in June 2010 – it had been ten years since I had last
been there and was long overdue. It was time to “put a face on all those
emails”, strengthen the city to city bond, and develop an agenda to present to
Ra’anana Music Center, a K-12 academic music school, is an outstanding facility
and incredibly nurturing environment for the municipality’s gifted / talented
children. Director Limor Akta and husband-trumpeter Tamir Akta performed
a concert in Roswell, GA two years later.
friend Warren Melamed of Nashville, TN joined me in Ra’anana and we toured the
entire Jewish State from top to bottom. I arrived four days before Warren
to initiate as many new projects as possible during the busy week.
Ra’anana provided me a warm reception, terrific itinerary, and an excellent
hotel view (Sharon Hotel, Herzliya).
discussed with President Colin Marks Masorti’s long term viability if the
congregation did not attract new families – last estimate was 45 families which
places the synagogue at risk of dissolution. Mayor Hofree has offered a
free plot of land and new building if Masorti will merge with a similar-sized
Sephardic congregation experiencing the same problems. Despite both
synagogues being part of the Conservative branch of Judaism, it is difficult to
conceive how the Anglo Masorti (Ashkenazim) and Hispanic / Mediterranean
(Sephardim) expressions can be successfully merged / fused. I addressed
the Masorti Shabbat Service and discussed how the ARSCC could assist the
congregants. Warren Melamed and I were Shabbat dinner guests of Colin
Marx and his family.
taken with two Founders Hall staff members and Sima Peri (jacket), Ra’anana
Councilwoman / International Affairs Committee Chair, Ronit Shoham (black
outfit) International Affairs Coordinator / Mayoral Spokesperson. Sharing
of best practices between The Bremen at Selig Center and Atlanta History Center
and Founders Hall remains an ARSCC goal.
visit concluded with a planning and schmoozing session at Ra’anana Park Lake
Café – lunch with Mayor Hofree and Mrs. Sima Peri during which we developed an
agenda for the coming year, 2011 – 2012.
to Atlanta Ra’anana Sister City Committee
Members on results
Rechtman and the SOREL Project:
Sister Cities Economic Development Global Partnership Forum: Energy Efficiency
& Renewable Energy, Oct. 18 – 19, 2010
Consul Reda Mansour is replaced by Opher Aviran – Dr. Heller and Dr. Suzman
meet with the Consul for assistance:
Vice Chair Myrna Cohen and sister Roberta visit Ra’anana May 15, 2011:
had returned home from my June 2010 Ra’anana meetings determined to finally
organize a student exchange. I approached North Atlanta High and Pace
Academy about jointly engaging in a student exchange with the three Ra’anana
high schools – Ostrovsky, Aviv and Metro West. I had met with Pace a year
earlier about working with their International Component of the school
curriculum which is described in the following e-mail to Ronit Shoham,
Ra’anana’s Mayor Spokesperson.
brought Pace together with North Atlanta High’s International Baccalaureate
Program to jointly carry out a student exchange program. We
scheduled this joint project for a Fall 2010 Atlanta mission to Ra’anana with
Pace and North Atlanta reciprocating in the spring of 2011. This exchange
was re-scheduled for the following year due to Ra’anana’s learning that the
Ministry of Education required schools to submit requests a year in advance of
being approved for an overseas exchange. As noted in the meeting with
Consul Aviran, I complained about this ruling and requested the Consulate to
intervene – they could not.
Atlanta Sister Cities Commission – ASCC, after
organizing three economic development conferences (2006, 2008, 2010), decided
to facilitate a Super – Exchange: Secondary schools from Atlanta’s 18 sister
cities were invited to participate. I was the principal organizer of the
Sixth Super-Exchange in Atlanta educational history and expected Ra’anana’s
participation as automatic.
managed to recruit 3 – 4 students but the cost of underwriting the teacher –
chaperon’s airline ticket became problematic and eventually prevented them from
following e-mail to Ra’anana describes my feelings of disappointment.
following news article was published in the weekly Northside Neighbor Newspaper
the week after Super – Exchange 6 concluded. The article describes the
countries that sent high school delegations and the program the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission provided
failure to participate was the low point of my thirteen years as chair.
However, as stated earlier, the mission and spirit of sister cities is to sum
up the committee’s strengths, learn from failure so as to never repeat it
again, and move on to the next project. I instead celebrate the economic
development – trade and investment – that has manifested the past fifteen years
and turned the page on student exchanges. It is unlikely that there will
ever be one. If it does happen, Ra’anana will have to propose the joint
project and take the lead in expediting it.
the meantime, the extraordinary business relationship that has developed
between Israel, Ra’anana, and Atlanta and the U. S., is described in the
following 2012 Atlanta Jewish Times news article.
Issie Shapiro is a world class center for education and therapy for special
needs people, children and adults. Based in Ra’anana, Beit Issie has
friends all over the world that raise money or organize charity events for the
center which has a working relationship with the Marcus Autism Center in
Rena Kahn, ARSCC member, August 2, :
ARSCC participates in the ASCC’s annual Holiday Parties.
Myrna Cohen and Rena Kahn traditionally lead the way in providing a tasty sampling
of Israeli foods for the other sister cities to experience and enjoy.
Kahn also principally organized the ARSCC’s highlight of 2012, a wonderful
concert that was produced at the home of Roswell architect Mr. Ari Kohn.
Ra’anana L – R: Musical accompanist (unidentified), Rena Kahn, Limor Akta,
Tamir Akta, Ari Kohn, Arnold Heller
Akta addresses the 55 people in attendance about the mission of the Ra’anana
major project for 2013 was a visit to Ra’anana by 75 MBA students from the
Goizueta Business School of Emory University.
Hamas attacked Israel by shooting hundreds of missiles into the center of the
country, two-thirds of the MBA students dropped out of the trip.
Eventually, Dr. Jozette Kauffman, Tour Leader, planned to visit Ra’anana with
three hearty students. Unfortunately, the day of the visit to Ra’anana,
the van that the Emory group planned to drive to Ra’anana, was robbed of
laptops, smart phones, and passports. The rest of the trip to Israel was
spent scrambling with the American Embassy to obtain passports for the return
home to Atlanta. Dr. Kauffman has promised that the Emory MBA group is
going to visit Ra’anana at some time in the future. The ARSCC looks
forward to assisting them when they are ready to try again.