By Steve Savitsky, President of Bnai Zion Foundation
During President’s Week, I had the pleasure, along with Cheryl Bier, to represent Bnai Zion in Israel at the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. Bnai Zion has been a member of this prestigious organization for many years and we feel privileged to represent our members in the important work done by the Conference of Presidents. They are the official spokespeople for foreign policy, representing all major organizations in Washington and around the World.
On Friday, February 24th, Cheryl, board members Shelley Kilcoyne, Sheryl Safran, and I had the privilege of going to Ma’aleh Adumim, a community with whom we have an extremely close relationship. We dedicated a brand new park in memory of Mel Parness (Former Executive Vice President Emeritus of Bnai Zion). The ceremony was very moving. We were honored that Mel’s daughter, Bari, along with some other family and friends were there for this tremendous and meaningful occasion.
On Sunday, February 26th, we continued our trip, joined by board member Josh Katzen, and went to visit both of our projects in Haifa. We had a chance to meet with Dr. Amnon Rofe, the CEO of the Bnai Zion Medical Center, and learn about all of the new innovative programs in which they are involved. Voted the best medium sized hospital in all of Israel, BZMC is truly a great place and we feel honored that it bears our name. From there we went to Ahava Village for Children & Youth where we got to see the emergency shelter that has been built to protect the young boys and girls who have to be removed from their homes for safety reasons. It is really quite unbelievable and leaves one with a strong feeling of satisfaction that we are major benefactors to Ahava Village.
On Monday, February 27th, we visited the David Yellin Academic College of Education,
a college which is known as the official teacher certification university in all of Israel. They train many people in the country and the population is approximately 80% Jewish and 20% Muslim. You get the sense of real racial harmony when you walk on the campus of David Yellin. From there we went to the Israel Elwyn campus where we visited the newly built Cultural Center, a wing dedicated by George & Irina Schaeffer (Chairman of the Board) and got a fascinating tour of the facility. We then renewed our pledge to help them raise the money they need to continue to make their facility a state-of-the-art institution in Israel.
I strongly encourage all of you to come and visit our projects. They are truly inspirational and life-changing. Bnai Zion will continue to fund humanitarian projects to make certain that every single person in Israel can receive the social services to which they are entitled.