Strengthening Our "Living Bridge" with Afula-Gilboa

The Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) comprises twelve Jewish Federations throughout the Northeast, including our Federation. Through the Jewish Agency for Israel's Partnership2Gether initiative, SNEC has forged a decades-long partnership with the Afula-Gilboa region of northern Israel, lending support as needed and building a cultural "living bridge" between our communities. 

King Solomon famously said, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Such is the case with the unique partnership between the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) and our friends in Israel's Afula-Gilboa region. Since 1994, the twelve Jewish Federations that constitute SNEC have forged deep ties with residents and organizations in this northern Israeli community. Throughout the pandemic, SNEC has continued to support the region through funding, medical equipment, and the reaffirmation of personal relationships built over decades.

Just as individual friendships deepen through mutual understanding, the American Jewish communities of SNEC appreciate learning more about the people of Afula-Gilboa. To that end, the Jewish Agency for Israel recently released an eight-part English language video series exploring life there. It starts with a look at the region’s religious diversity, which — since Afula-Gilboa is home to Jews, Arabs, Muslims, and Christians — forms a strong case study for coexistence. Other topics include the vibrant old market, Afula-Gilboa’s innovation center and cutting-edge clean-energy initiatives, and the immigrants who have made a home there.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford, SNEC, and the Jewish Agency are also partnering on a three-part Zoom series exploring the region's shared society. The first program will be held on Sunday, February 13 at 11 a.m. and focuses on Afula-Gilboa's Ethiopian-Israeli community, their journey to Israel, and the welcome they receive at the Beit Alfa absorption center. (Click here to register.) Dates for the second and third programs will be announced soon.

These efforts are part of SNEC's continued work to create lasting connections between Jewish communities in the American Northeast and our friends in Afula-Gilboa — and they are the start of something much bigger. "On behalf of the twelve participating Federations, I feel confident saying we're more excited than ever about SNEC,” says Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford President and CEO David Waren. “We are currently designing a signature initiative that will not only capture the imagination and hearts of communities in America and Israel but also create lasting positive impact for the people of Afula-Gilboa and our Southern New England Jewish community." Follow SNEC on Facebook to keep up with the latest activities.

Photo: Based in Afula and supported by Partnership2Gether and SNEC, the national Tarbut ("Culture") Movement creates artistic opportunities for teens and adults.