Before I begin, I would like to give a little background about the program for those of you who are not so familiar with it.
The Jewish Agency's Partnership 2000 program has become the paradigm for successfully partnering global Jewish communities directly with Israeli communities-the majority of which are in national priority areas.
An extraordinary global platform connecting some 550 communities around the world in 45 partnerships, is building living bridges among these communities. Sharing ideas, strengths, challenges and models of success; and empowering both communities to generate waves of change.
But the impact of these projects go far beyond the community level-each of us has the opportunity to become directly and personally involved.
At the heart of building the partnership between Israel and Jewish communities throughout the world is the Jewish Agency's team of Israeli emissaries.
They are key connectors,ensuring that Israel remains a valuable and active part of the community environment. Today, these include young Israelis who volunteer in their partner community.
It is because of Partnership 2000's success that my friends and I had the opportunity to come here to Albany to volunteer for the summer. This is what the living bridge is all about.Communities enriching and strengthening one another.
When I first realized I was given the opportunity to give up my summer vacation in Israel just to come all the way to America and volunteer for the Jewish community, I was thrilled. I could not wait for my great journey to begin! I was so excited about meeting new people and having the chance to see Israel from a different point of view.
I feel very lucky to be working at Givah. In my first week there I couldn't believe how much love, respect and mostly roach (spirit) both the staff and the campers share to Israel and to the Jewish culture. It's amazing to me as an Israeli to see how Jewish American children and teenagers know so much about both my country and my culture.
The highlight of my summer was definitely my group, as some of you might know I worked as a counselor to the amazing 1-2 girls! I truly enjoyed running around with them and answering whatever questions they had about Israel.
Finally, I would like to give my special thanks to the professionals and volunteers who are full of motivation and to all the chairpersons who very courageously and successfully lead this partnership here in Albany, and back in Israel.
Maureen Ben- Ishay.