The Magic of Friendship
Photography provided by Jewish Federation
“I don’t want to have just a passive Jewish life, I want to have an active Jewish life. So getting to explore Israel was a very important thing,” says Sarah Kleymeyer, after her return to Cincinnati.
The 10-day trip, organized by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, brought 25 Cincinnatians and eight Israelis together. In this unique initiative, all the Israelis were from Netanya, the Cincinnati Jewish community’s partner city through Partnership2Gether.
“Going to Israel with the Cincinnati group was a really incredible experience. But what I really think made this trip unique was that we got to spend 10 days with Israelis – in their homes, in their lives – experiencing things side by side,” says Kleymeyer.
Netanya resident Chen Ganach agrees, “It was really important for me because I know how I live, how my friends and family live, but I don’t know how Jewish people abroad live and practice their Judaism.”
Different Jewish Paths, Explored Together
Asked about impact, Kleymeyer focuses on the immediacy of the connection. “To be able to sit down with an Israeli, and really get to hear their perspective – you start making these bonds. Then of course you’re spending the night together, we’re waking up early together so we can hike to the top of Masada,” she says.
It expanded Ganach’s view as well: “Seeing them experience these places that I take for granted and how it’s precious for them, opened up my eyes a little bit more.”
“It was really fun to be able to take our different paths and compare them, side by side – together,” Kleymeyer says.
How does everything she learned fit together now that she’s back? Kleymeyer is enthusiastic, smiling and gesturing: “I am bringing that all back as I talk with my husband about what kind of home we want, and what we want for our children in the future, and how we want to connect to the Jewish community in Cincinnati.” She pauses. “It was an incredible experience.”
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati organized this unique trip, collaborating with Partnership2Gether in Cincinnati and Netanya, and receiving funding from the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati for a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel comprised entirely of Cincinnatians and Netanyans, as well as a trip by the same group, 10 months later, to Cincinnati. Partnership2Gether is a program of the Jewish Federation.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community and encouraging collaborations that help more people for less money. When we bring organizations and individuals together, big things happen – things that no one of us could do alone.