Jackie Congedo — In Conversation
Ohio House Mission to Israel Brought to Light Opportunities ‘To Work Together’
Ohio legislators got a crash course in Israeli technology, innovation, and history during the Ohio House Business and Trade Development Mission to Israel with Ohio Jewish Communities from November 8-16. The 25-member delegation included a bipartisan group of 11 state lawmakers; several legislative staffers; and civic, business, and community leaders. The delegation included State Rep. Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati. For many, including Kelly, the mission was their first trip to Israel.
The focus of the educational trip was on building better, deeper connections between Ohio and Israel, specifically in the areas of smart cities, autonomous driving, drones and UAVs, and agriculture and clean water technologies, as well as mental health and pediatric services.
The legislators explored the Honda-funded DRIVE TLV incubator and accelerator. They visited the Gilboa Forest Cattle Ranch, where staff are using Ohio cattle genetics to help create better herd. They learned about cutting-edge wastewater methods at Fluence Corporation. They visited ALUT, Israel’s national autism center, as well as Teva Pharmaceuticals.
“We hope these missions increase the Ohio-Israel bond, deepen our partnerships, and create broader collaborations,” said Howie Beigelman, Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities in Columbus. “The more business, commercial, academic, and personal ties between our states and our communities on the ground, the better. There’s a lot we can learn from each other and a lot of good we can do together.”
State Rep. Kelly spent some time meeting with representatives from the Israeli national trade union Histradut. As a state representative, one of Kelly’s community priorities has been on improving Ohio trade unions.
“Learning more about how Histadrut is fighting for higher wages and safer working conditions, and how public sector labor relations are structured in Israel was invaluable,” Kelly said. “Creating more opportunity for working people to have a better life is key to building a strong economy, no matter where you are in the world.”
In addition to exploring some of the start-up nation’s business and technology successes, the legislators got some context about Israel beyond the news. They had briefings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on MASHAV, Israel’s international development agency, and a tour and discussion of the Gaza border with Col. Grisha Yacubovich, former head of the Palestinian Civil Administration.
The legislators also had a chance to visit historical sites, including Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum; the Western Wall, the holiest of Jewish sites; and the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, significant Christian sites. They also had a chance to explore the cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and to float in the Dead Sea.
“There are many existing partnerships between Ohio and Israel,” Kelly said, “but an even greater number of opportunities for us to work together – innovatively and creatively – to address challenges related to issues that impact Ohioans every day from technology and agriculture to higher education and security, and more.”
Other lawmakers included House Minority Leader Rep. Frederick Strahorn, D-Dayton; Assistant Minority Whip Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron; Rep. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake; Rep. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights; Rep. Enrico Anthony Carfagna, R-Knox County; Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green; Rep. Bill Reineke, Jr., R-Tiffin; Rep. Timothy Ginter, R-Salem; Rep. Andrew Thompson, R-Marietta; and Rep. Kent Smith, D-Euclid. The Ohio House Mission to Israel was funded by Ohio’s Jewish federations, foundations, and corporate donors. The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati raised its share from interested individual donors.
“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati (JCRC) is pleased that our elected officials had the opportunity to explore the strong ties between Israel and the State of Ohio, and we are particularly thrilled that Representative Kelly from Cincinnati was able to participate,” said Walter Spiegel, President of the JCRC, the non-partisan public affairs arm of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. “JCRC looks forward to working with Representative Kelly to explore ways to utilize the information that was exchanged during the mission to the mutual benefit of Cincinnati and Israel.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council is one of more than fifty programs and agencies funded by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
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