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Two Homes in the Valley

A home was built for us in Israel’s Yizre'el Valley. And we’re helping to build a home in the valley for others.

The home that was built for us is the Partnership House on Kibbutz Yizre'el, just outside of Afula, in our community’s partnership region of Afula-Gilboa in northern Israel. A beautiful four-unit guest house in the middle of a tranquil and scenic kibbutz, the house exists largely for the purpose of welcoming guests from the Federations in our southern New England consortium.
In other words,  anyone from our community has a home away from home in our partnership region.  If you are traveling to Israel, we want to encourage you to travel to the Afula-Gilboa region, where (based upon availability), we can arrange for you to have up to four nights, including breakfast, at a comfortable kibbutz guest-house, absolutely for FREE. And adding to the hospitality, the staff in our partnership office would love to orient you to the region -- taking you on a tour, introducing you to some of the vital organizations that we help to support, or even arranging for a meal in a local home. There is much to see in this vibrant and diverse region, including learning firsthand of the impact that our community has been making in Afula-Gilboa. And, who knows: you may even bump into one of our former Federation Israeli Emissaries there.

The home that we are helping to build for others is, in fact, called “Home in the Valley.” As you may know, the Israeli Young Emissary program, for which there are now over 160 young "ambassadors" around the world, was created in Westport 19 years ago. And at that time, one of the first pair of emissaries, a pioneer of the entire program, was Shani Cabra Gerbak. 
Shani, who group up in Afula, decided to stay there as an adult, despite having a family that is not typical for her community. She lives in Afula with her wife, a 5-year-old daughter, and another baby due in the next month. As Shani explains, living openly as part of the LGBTQ community in Afula is not typical… or easy.  

This past week, Shani came back to Upper Fairfield County for the first time in 19 years. On Sunday, Shani and I went to the LGBTQ Pride Festival in Bethel. While she was thrilled to be at the event, she lamented that nothing like that could happen in Afula… yet.

But Shani is working to change that, and when I first met her in January 2017, she introduced me to the organization that she and a partner are working to create, “Home in the Valley,” the region's first organization dedicated to LGBTQ inclusion. And last fall, our Federation became the first-ever to provide funding for Home in the Valley, a modest contribution of a couple of thousand dollars, coming from our Afula-Gilboa Giving Night event. 

It’s amazing how a modest amount of impact funding can make a major difference. As a result of our support, Shani updated me earlier this week that Home in the Valley is now garnering significant interest and support, including funding by the Israeli government for two salaried positions serving the LGBTQ community in Afula. And just last week, the combined Federations in our southern New England consortium agreed to direct additional funding toward Shani’s efforts.

There are two homes in the valley. One was built for us. And the more we visit that home, the more we might be inspired to help build a home… or homes… or entire communities for others.

If you are planning a trip to Israel and are interested in staying at the Partnership House (or even just interested in a tour of the Afula-Gilboa region), please contact me at  dweisberg@jewishphilanthropyct.org and I will be happy to work with you on arrangements.
Monday, May 14
12 noon
Federation Offices
4200 Park Ave., Ste. 300
Bring your own lunch or purchase one at the JSS Courtyard Cafe on the first floor.
Are you a kid who is passionate about food?
Do you love Israel?
Get your creative juices flowing and create a piece of art highlighting Israeli cuisine.
All submissions will be displayed at our "Taste of Israel" Food Festival on June 10 and reviewed by our panel of celebrity judges. Winners will be featured in our post-event marketing and displayed in our offices following the festival.
All participants will receive two free entries to the festival.
RSVP by June 4
(203) 226-8197
The Adis Scout troop in Afula is a great leadership-development program, primarily engaging kids in the Ethiopian community.

The troop and our Federation Israeli Emissaries are raising money to help low-income Adis members enjoy a two-week summer camp, where scouts build their own campsite, prepare their own meals, and learn about the history and future of Israel.

from our community partners

Congregation Beth El
1200 Fairfield Woods Road, Fairfield
with Andrew Porwancher, PhD,
 a core faculty-member of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage

Light refreshments served
Free admission
more info
Jewish Senior Services Hospice Volunteer Training
Sunday, June 3 ~ 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6 ~ 4:30-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 7 ~ 4:30-8:30 p.m.
materials and meals will be provided free of charge

Jewish Senior Services
4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport

Ellen Ashkins: (203) 365-6417 / eashkins@jseniors.org 
worth the trip