On Monday, November 16, 2009, more than 100 members of the Baltimore Jewish community participated in The Associated’s Israel Education & Engagement Summit. The purpose of the summit was to open a community dialogue about the future of the relationship between the next generation of Baltimore Jews and Israel. Representatives from more than 20 organizations participated in the summit, bringing their knowledge and investment in a vibrant relationship with Israel to the table.
During the summit, seven facilitated roundtable discussions took place focusing on the following areas: Maximizing the Value of Existing Resources, Connecting to Israel through Advocacy, Connecting to Israel through Volunteerism and Leadership Development, Using Technology to Facilitate Israel Connections, Connecting to Israel through Environmental Issues, and Connecting to Israel through Arts, Sports, and Culture. Each discussion identified a series of actionable items that could be implemented; many common themes emerged and are described below.
The concepts presented here are only the beginnings of ideas. Further community input to further develop the ideas is essential before moving forward in developing detailed action plans.
Create an Israel-focused website that can serve as a centralized clearing house for information and creating connections to Israel, which would include:
- Community Calendar
- Develop a curriculum for Israel advocacy - Utilize technology, such as Skype, to maximize reach of such an initiative.
- Information about Israel travel
- Israel news
- Israeli cultural, sports, and environmental links.
Create a community Israel desk.
- Convene a Coordinating Coalition for Israel – Involve all of organizations that have Israel as part of their agenda in an ongoing conversation to create a culture that allows different organizations to communicate with each other.
- Serve as an in-person access point for local Israel information.
- Develop and implement social and cultural Israel programs for the community that do not exist.
- Provide support to community organizations that want to have or strengthen Israel programs, including linking them to local, national, and international resources.
- Create a local speakers bureau- Identify speakers who for little or no cost will speak in the community on different Israel-related issues.
Improve follow up engagement among Israel trip participants.
- Create a central database of Israel trip alumni, including teen/school trips, Birthright Israel, and MASA programs.
- Create structured follow-up model to connect people after returning from Israel to the local community and ongoing Israel programming.
- Connect Israel trip alumni to advocacy initiatives and educational programs.
The goal in the coming weeks is to develop these ideas more and begin work on action plans for each of these areas so that they may be successfully implemented. Community volunteers, the next generation populations that we seek to engage, and professionals will be involved in this planning as an extension of the discussions begun at the Israel Education & Engagement Summit.