by Ravit Ochayon-Michal, Partnership Director
The Eshkol-Mexico Partnership was officially established in 2004.
Since then, many efforts have been put into building an infrastructure that will enable for the operation of this partnership, according to pre-existing models in Partnership 2000.
In light of objective difficulties arisen during the development of the model with Mexico, on October 2005 a re-thinking process took place at JAFI's headquarters, regarding how to promote the goals and objectives of Partnership 2000 in Eshkol, and how to allow for a budget increase for the Eshkol Partnership in view of the core budget reduction.
Based on the will of developing our partnership together with an additional community from North America, on January 2006 the Jewish Community of North East New York joined the Eshkol-Mexico partnership. This step turns our partnership model into a more exclusive and challenging one, which uniqueness relies on the tightening of bonds between Jews of three divert overseas communities. In addition, this model makes our partnership become a central platform that serves as basis for a joint decision- taking process. In order to promote this process, the following steps have been taken:
Early in 2006 a partnership strategic planning process got started, aiming at the formation of a new Steering Committee leaded by volunteer chairpersons heading the various committees.
A call was published to gather volunteers for the different committees, and also representatives from the regional council contributed in gathering volunteers from the area. Those who showed interest in the proposal were invited to an acquaintance meeting, and many of them willingly joined us and started the process. In light of the complexity of the process and the need for coordination and toeing lines among the three communities, JAFI provided professional guidance, training and assistance, which was of significant importance.
A few months later, the sub-committees were established alongside the Steering Committee. These were voluntarily headed by:
- Mrs. Chava Mila from E'in Habessor - Chair of the Steering Committee
- Mrs. Oshra Shleifer from Kibbutz Magen - Chair of the Education & Community Committee
- As an expression of the triple bond, two chairpersons were appointed for the Living Bridge (or Gesher LeKesher) Committee:
- Mrs. Andrea Katz from Kibbutz Nirim - who collaborates in tightening the relationship with Mexico.
- Mr. Ephraim Pearlmutter from Sde Nitzan - who promotes the relationship with North East New York. (NENY).
Mr. Daniel Liberant appointed an expert who acts as the main contact person for professionals and volunteers of the region. Mrs. Miriam Zaga came to Eshkol on April 2007 and met JAFI's professionals. Together with Mrs. Zaga, I built a working plan and she managed to meet with people from Eshkol Regional Council and volunteers from the Steering Committee. One of the main missions of Mexico today is to establish a parallel Steering Committee, including the appointment of its chairperson.
Based on a brief previous attempt of developing a partnership with another region, the Jewish Community of NENY was already organized in structural terms, according to previously existing models.
- The Steering Committee is voluntarily chaired by Mr. Louis Jack Pozner.
- The Sub-committee in the Living Bridge field is voluntarily chaired by
Mr. Randy Shapiro.
- The Education & Community committee is headed by Mrs. Terre Foreman.
On November 06, representatives of the sub-committees and of the Steering Committee from NENY came to Eshkol for a festive-like gathering.
Following this, recommendations on the partnership's activities for 2007 of the three community's Steering Committees were transferred by e-mail and the official approval for running the 2007 budget in Eshkol was granted through a video-conference session.
During the year 2007, the Israeli committees were assembled for a number of discussion sessions dealing with projects to be run during 2008. Their recommendations were accordingly transferred to the other two partner communities. A similar process took place both in Mexico and in NENY.
On the 4th and 5th of November 2007, an additional Joint Steering Committee meeting took place, attended by Mrs. Zaga, the expert from Mexico. During this meeting, we approved the 2008 budget and outlined the working principles and joint working plans for the years to come. (The committee's meeting protocols can be found at the partnership's internet site).
On November 2007, a new Living Bridge Coordinator, Mrs. Tal Klamer from Moshav Dekel in Eshkol joined us. The fact that Tal acts as a joint coordinator for all three partner communities serves as a meaningful expression of the uniqueness of the triple bond and the willingness to strengthen and develop this partnership.
We all hope that the years to come will be years of growth and prosperity for our partnership.
Thanks to the professionals and volunteers who are full of motivation and to all the chairpersons who very courageously and successfully lead this partnership.