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Home hospitality forges ties for Israelis and Wisconsinites
February 22nd, 2002
Jerusalem - Israelis from the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Partnership 2000 region of Sovev Kinneret appreciated the show of solidarity from the 43 visiting Wisconsinites last week, and some even joined them for further parts of the trip.
“We were proud to see that despite the situation here, there are people willing to come to Israel,” said Shushu Natan, as he dined together with the group at Jerusalem’s Darna restaurant. “It gives us the feeling that we are not alone, that we are part of a bigger Jewish nation.”
Like other Kinneret area families, the Kibbutz Ashdot Yaacov resident, former Israel shaliach (emissary) for Australia, and his wife, Tirza, opened up their homes during the mission’s home hospitality evening. After that, they decided to spend the following four days with the group touring sites in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The couple has been actively involved in various Partnership 2000 projects for the past few years, and jumped at the chance to spend a lengthier period of time with the visiting American Jews.
“The idea of being with a group for a few days not just in a formal setting but in an informal one, too, and to do everything with them is a unique approach to Israeli-diaspora relations,” said Tirza. “It creates something more real than just a one-time meeting.”
Her husband agreed, adding, “Sometimes [Israel-diaspora relations] is just a slogan, just words and there is no real friendship there at all, but meeting with them like this really means something to us.
“It also gives American Jews a chance to express themselves too and to see the land of Israel.”
Lil and Art Teplinsky, who were hosted by the Natan family on their kibbutz, said that the home hospitality and the personal connection with Israelis was one of the trip’s highlights. “It was a lovely evening,” said Art. “We talked about so many things and had a lot in common aside from being Jewish.”
The Natans said they are planning to stay in touch with some members of the visiting Milwaukee delegation. And Shushu hopes to visit the states soon.