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Travel to Israel Inspires Active Jewish Life Back Home
“I don’t want to have just a passive Jewish life, I want to have an active Jewish life. So getting to explore Israel was a very important thing,” said Sarah Kleymeyer after her return last summer to Cincinnati.
Organized by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, this trip brought 25 Cincinnatians and 10 Israelis—seven students and three soldiers—together for ten days. In this unique initiative, all the Israelis were from Netanya, the Cincinnati Jewish community’s partner city through Partnership2Gether. Partnership2Gether is a program of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati funded the Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel, as well as a trip by this same group, ten months later, to Cincinnati.
“Going to Israel with the Cincinnati group was a really incredible experience. But what I really think made this trip unique was that we got to spend ten days with Israelis—in their homes, in their lives—experiencing things side by side,” said Kleymeyer.
Netanya resident Chen Ganach agreed. “It was really important for me because I know how I live, how my friends and family live, but I don’t know how Jewish
people abroad live and practice their Judaism.”
Different Jewish Paths, Explored Together
Asked about impact, Kleymeyer focused on the immediacy of the connection. “To be able to sit down with an Israeli, and really get to hear their perspective—you start making these bonds. Then of course you’re spending the night together, we’re waking up early together so we can hike to the top of Masada,” she said.
It expanded Ganach’s view as well: “Seeing them experience these places that I take for granted and how it’s precious for them, opened up my eyes a little bit more.”
“It was really fun to be able to take our different paths and compare them, side by side—together,” Kleymeyer said.
How does everything she learned matter now that she’s back? Kleymeyer is enthusiastic, smiling and gesturing. “I am bringing that all back as I talk with my husband about what kind of home we want, and what we want for our children in the future, and how we want to connect to the Jewish community in Cincinnati.” She pauses. “It was an incredible experience.”
Sarah’s travel to Israel, along with 24 others from Cincinnati, was facilitated by Partnership2Gether (P2G), a program of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati requested and received funding from The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati for a Cincinnati Birthright trip to Israel that included a reverse Mifgash with our partnership city of Netanya, a P2G program of the Jewish Federation. First, in December of 2014, 25 Cincinnatians, ages 22 to 26, traveled on a 10-day Birthright trip to Israel with peers from Netanya. Ten months later, those Israeli peers came to Cincinnati to get a taste of American Jewish life.