A central hallmark of the Partnership 2000 program, which has connected Pittsburgh with the Israeli communities of Karmiel and Misgav for the past 16 years, was always the personal relationships it engendered.
Now, along with the Jewish Agency for Israel’s global re-branding of Partnership 2000 as Partnership2Gether, comes a local renewal that takes the personal element of the initiative to the next level.
After a decade-and-a-half of community building, youth leadership development, and innovative business and community partnerships, it was “time to re-evaluate and look at what we’ve been doing right, and what we could do better to make the partnership better,” said Linda Simon, who, along with Skip Grinberg, is co-chair of Partnership2Gether in Pittsburgh.
As part of Partnership 2000, each year, hundreds of volunteers have worked together to examine issues and responses, to determine projects and budgets, and to ensure that Karmiel and Misgav continue to grow and attract young families .
The newly named Partnership2Gether will empower lay leadership in both countries to be decision-makers, taking the focus away from the municipalities, which were, until now, the primary stakeholders.
“What we’re trying to do,” said Simon, “is involve more people on both sides in the actual programs that we’re doing. In Pittsburgh, people aren’t traveling to Israel as often as they used to. And one of the goals of the partnership is developing the people-to-people relationship. We want to reach out to new populations of volunteers, and new agencies to work with us.”
While Partnership 2000 in Pittsburgh worked solely with Jewish Federation beneficiary agencies, the new Partnership2Gether will expand its reach to other institutions, such as congregations, sisterhoods and other community organizations. In Israel, while Partnership 2000 worked only with municipalities, Partnership2Gether will reach out to lay leaders.
“Both of us (Pittsburgh and Karmiel/Misgav) are trying to expand our horizons on the volunteer end and the project end,” Simon said.
In an effort to get more people involved, Pittsburgh’s Partnership2Gether has formed several new committees, including a marketing and public relations task force to publicize the accomplishments of the organization, and a volunteer development committee.
“We are trying to make sure we pay attention to the Pittsburgh Jewish community’s objectives,” Simon said. “The Partnership can be a way in for more involvement with Israel. It’s very personal.”
Partnership2Gether offers lay leaders the opportunity to be hands-on from the ground up in determining the use of resources for projects in Israel, according to Simon.
“What I love about Partnership,” she said, “is that I am personally responsible for the dollars I give, making sure they are being used in the proper way. It’s a much more personal way to show your commitment, and the only place in the federation where lay leaders have that sort of responsibility for what’s happening with their community dollars.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)