Twenty years ago, Cleveland entered into a strategic partnership with the Jewish Community of St. Petersburg, Russia, to help sustain and renew Jewish life in a city where Judaism was forbidden for seventy years of Communist rule.
Two years ago, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland began a partnership with the local St. Clair-Superior neighborhood to share successful community development models through entrepreneurship, demographic growth, youth engagement, and more from Cleveland’s sister city - Beit Shean, Israel and the Valley of Springs, the region surrounding Beit Shean.
Although Ben Miller, 13, has studied Israel while attending the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood, and anticipated visiting, he likely didn’t imagine his first trip would include his family playing a basketball game with about 10 soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces.
The path of discovering Judaism for Alex Sweeney of Mentor began as a child. “I really didn’t have a Jewish identity; we celebrated some holidays, but it wasn’t anything consistent. My grandfather always talked about being Jewish. I remember learning about the Holocaust, but not thinking that really happened to my people.”
Forty Cleveland civic leaders spent a week in Israel in July, as part of a new Jewish Federation of Cleveland trip, where they got a sense of the country and issues shared by Northeast Ohio and Israeli communities.