Jerusalem of Gold
Day 2: August 4, 2015
Karen Weil (San Diego, CA), Chair, 2020 Meetings and Events
We walked all through the Old City this morning. The views were breathtaking, especially from the observatory of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. We took a wonderful L2020 photo to commemorate the experience. We learned about the historical parts of the city while touring the Jewish Quarter. At one point we stood on the rooftops and viewed all four quarters of the city as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Towards the end of the tour, we had a few minutes to shop and we found some unique gifts to give our loved ones back home. Of course, we chose the hottest week in 5 years to visit Jerusalem and the cold water bottles and iced coffee were extremely popular too! While visiting the observatory, we saw a gorgeous Chihuly which created a fabulous backdrop for a photo op, but honestly, I think we really loved being at that spot for the wonderful air conditioning! As we pondered all of the tough questions of the morning…topics such as the history of the Jewish quarter, architectural wonder, the “new” buildings of the old city which were only 400 years old mixed in with the cobblestones from Herod, the biggest question was “Where is Gabe???”.
We traveled next to the Jewish settlements where we met Miri Maoz-Ovadia who was a spokesperson for the Binyamin Regional Council. She brought us to a local supermarket so we could experience first hand a normal setting with Jews and Arabs intermingling, working together and living regular lives. She explained the shopping center was a place where everyone could co-exist. During our meeting at the grocery store, the store managers (both Israeli and Palestinian) explained that they are friends during work hours and struggle to maintain their friendship outside of work due to the difficulty of congregating in their individual communities because of the restrictions caused by the checkpoints and living in the zoned areas of A and B. We were told that within their store, Jews and Arabs co-exist and have respect for one another. The managers ask their workers to keep their personal political concerns outside of the workplace. As of now, outside media reports do not seem to affect their grocery store environment.
It was very special for all of us to be together while experiencing this incredible, complex place! We will treasure these memories and bonding moments for a lifetime.
Tracey Grossman (Boca Raton, FL), Co-Chair, Leadership 2020
Today we had lunch in Judaea and Samaria at the Psagot Boutique Winery. We met with Miri, the English Language PR director of the Binyamin Regional Council, the largest regional council in the area.
She began our discussion by expressing her feelings about the arson attack in Duma last week that left an infant dead and a young boy badly burned. She spoke as a Jew, as a mom, as an Israeli and as a settler as she expressed her disgust, anger and grief. She said that the actions of extremists like that do dual damage: to both the victim and to the society at large.
She welcomed us to Binyamin and described the different names used to describe both the area: occupied territories or Judea and Samaria as well as the different names used to describe the people who live there: settlers or Israelis.
During a large and delicious dairy lunch we spoke with Dani Dayan, a business man and prominent advocate for Jews in Judea and Samaria. Dani is the former chairman of the YESHA Council, the umbrella governing organization of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria. Dani spoke about how the recent days have been troubling both morally and practically. He spoke about his concerns regarding the need for greater moral, educational and leadership role models for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. He also spoke at length about how both peoples would benefit from cooperation and he expanded that belief into removing most of the security apparatus that the Israelis have put in place: checkpoints, travel restrictions, even the security fence . I was impressed by his optimism.
After a short schluf from between the winery and the ADL Israel office, we had the great pleasure of going to ADL’s only office outside the United States to meet our Israeli staff and learn more about what they do.
Carole, the Director of the office, spoke about how words and deeds are important and about the overview of what ADL’s Israel office seeks to achieve. Rachel, the Director of Education spoke about the diverse population of Israel and how they facilitate A World of Difference and Confronting Anti-Semitism programs with Jewish, Christian, Druze and Israeli Arab populations. Gaby gave an overview of the variety of ADL missions that she helps to coordinate. She shared that she runs one almost every month and that many target and serve non-Jewish populations such as: Law Enforcement; Catholic educators; interfaith, campus and Latino leaders. Lastly we heard from Ari who handles Middle Eastern issues and specifically how he had been handling the media regarding the arson and murder in Duma. Our conversation concluded with a discussion about how the Israeli office might grow its lay leader and fundraising base as well as some notice of the lack of civil rights and development staff.
After our invigorating and inspiring meeting at Israel’s ADL office we returned to the hotel for some free time. We were supposed to rest, but most of us journeyed to Ben Yehuda street to find gifts for our friends and family.
We met again at 7:30 to head to a lavish and absolutely delicious dinner. At dinner we were joined by an extremely impressive group of young leaders in civic and private sector positions: from a Haredi solider to a promoter of Israeli lacrosse to the campus representative from Stand With Us to a Latina Israeli journalist who focuses on cover Iran to tech sector leaders who are designing apps and trying to convert Israeli medical records to electronic format. The discussions were, again, inspiring and we left feeling motivated by and impressed with this cadre of young Israeli leaders.
We concluded our long and exciting day by doing what we 2020s do best: dreaming up the ways that we can most impact the future of ADL over multiple rounds of drinks at a bar on Ben Yehuda street.