By Arkady Hasidovich, Kesher Coordinator, Partnership 2000 Yokneam-Megiddo
Partnership 2000 is about connections between people of all ages and walks of life. Even if these are college students from WashU, St. Louis, who have just landed in Israel, and Yokneam Daliyot elementary school kids who were just saved by the bell. Ask Rabbi Hershey Novack, Chabad St. Louis, who brought the St. Louis Birthright students to Yokneam school on Dec 29, or Sima Nisselbaum, the Daliyot School principle. They will tell you right away that their students, despite the 10 years age gap, are a perfect match for what we call "Kesher" - a bond, a connection between the Israelis and American Jewry.
Rabbi Hershey Novack and Sima Nisselbaum are both dedicated champions of the Partnership 2000 between Yokneam-Megiddo and the Jewish Communities of St. Louis and Atlanta. Although they never met in person, they both had a feeling they knew each other before. Of course they did - apparently it was through the Partnership 2000 Facebook group!
Rabbi Novack, Director of Chabad on Campus serving Washington U. in St. Louis, is a frequent visitor in Yokneam, keeping up a good tradition of Chabad WashU Birthright visits to Yokneam for many years now.
Sima Nisselbaum, beyond her call of duty as Daliyot School principle, also volunteers as the Head of the Partnership 2000 Steering Committee. Partnership 2000 is well-represented in Daliyot school within the framework of Kesher B'Kitah classroom-to-classroom project. Thanks to this project Daliyot 5th graders are in constant touch with their peers in three St. Louis schools: Schechter, United Hebrew and Bnai Amoona, just like hundreds more students in other Yokneam-Megiddo and St. Louis schools.
The visit to Daliyot school started from a welcome note bestowed to WashU students by stage-fearless 6th graders. After the formal intro, Rabbi Novack took a live "interview" of a few guests and hosts to get a better understanding of each other.
Keeping in mind the 14 hours WashU students have just spent in airplanes, they desperately need to stretch up. Little did they know, but the Daliyot kids had just that in mind.
The enthusiastic kids swept the students in Israeli folk dances and the parties surprised each other with a few new steps.
After a short break for refreshments, the Israelis and Americans rejoined for a free-style volleyball game, with a very limited amount of rules and unlimited portions of fun.
Although the teams were quite far from exhibiting Olympic volleyball standards, it was a truly bonding experience.
Saying good bye even after such a short encounter is always very emotional for the kids, but we are sure that some of them will stay in touch, while more delegations from St. Louis will follow.