This is a momentous year for our Federation as we mark the 20th anniversary of our Global Twinning Program. Imagine a program that has connected thousands of students in Greater Los Angeles to their peers in Tel Aviv, Israel and Vilnius, Lithuania. Consider the power of these young people experiencing Jewish life firsthand in these historic and dynamic centers of Jewish life.
Over the past 20 years, with your support, we have impacted the lives of over 60,000 middle and high school students, their families, their teachers and their schools — through reciprocal student delegation exchanges, collaborative curriculum development, and intensive teacher training. This community-wide program has created thousands of lifelong friendships and built enduring people-to-people bridges between our young people and the State of Israel and between Israeli young people and diaspora Jewry.
I have been fortunate to visit most of the partner schools and meet hundreds of their students over the past seven years. Recently, I met a lovely young woman who was one of the early participants. She was effusive about the impact the program has had on her life and her deep love of Israel. Today, she remains in close contact with her Israeli host family and her “twin.”
On one of my trips to Israel with a group of senior lay leaders including then Federation Chair Richard Sandler, we visited Tichon Chadash, a high school partnered with de Toledo High School. One of the teens said to us, “From the outside looking in you can’t really understand it, but from the inside looking out you can really explain it.”
This teenager’s words are simple yet profound and speak to the power of this program — the only initiative of its kind in the world.
In a few weeks, I will be writing to you from our Israel Unparalleled Mission, exploring Israel’s dynamic food, wine, and art scene. I will visit with our partners, the Israel Trauma Coalition and Unistream, and will report back to you on the dramatic impact we are making together in Israel today.
Thank you for reading — and for all your support of our Federation and our community.
President & CEO