[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
Since its inception, Partnership-2Gether (formerly Partnership with Israel) has brought great richness to our Louisville Jewish community as we connected with residents of the Western Galilee and members of the other Jewish Federation communities in our Midwest Consortium.
We’ve participated in joint arts projects, enjoyed concerts and dance performances, exchanged medical expertise, developed business connections, participated in educational programs and connected one-on-one with people throughout the Partnership.
Once again, Partnership is giving us the opportunity to enrich our community. This time, it comes in the form of a new Partnership2Gether director for our region, Eran El-Bar.
Last week, El-Bar stopped in Louisville en route to the Partnership planning meetings in Indianapolis. While he was here, he took some time to talk with Community about his hopes and dreams for Partnership and what he brings to the table.
“I was born in Jerusalem one day after Jerusalem was attacked in 1967,” El-Bar said. By training, he is a music teacher and composer. He served as head of a conservatory in Israel and developed a special program for the school.
Five years ago, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) approached him and asked him to become their director of education in Central Europe. It was a logical choice, he explained, because he had studied in Europe and his wife had made aliyah from Hungary.
When he returned to Israel, El-Bar said, “They offered me several positions and I picked the one in the north because I wanted to be in the Galilee.”
In fact, he and his family were already living in the Western Galilee, in the small town of Eshchar, when the Partnership position opened up. The previous director, Beth Zuriel, had served the region well, but was ready to move on to other things.
El-Bar also serves as the director for the New Jersey-Nahariya Partnership.
It was a good fit for El-Bar. “The main goal of Partnership,” he explained, “is to create opportunities for Jewish people here and in the Western Galilee.” Professionally and personally, he feels that the program offers something even greater.
“The range of possibilities is huge,” he continued. “We are talking about delegations, courses for leadership, twinning schools, kindergarten programs, committees that work together and new projects.
“A lot of people can get involved in leading and creating projects,” he observed. “Even if they do nothing but sit in committees,” people can connect through Partnership.
Indeed, bringing people together is what fascinates El-Bar about Partnership. Whether it is business people working together or kindergatten teachers learning the same text, he said, “I find it very special.
“We have a great team in Israel,” El-Bar stated, “open, enthusiastic and professional.” He hopes to do a better job of maintaining that connection and keeping the enthusiasm for projects going once those involved return to their home communities.
El-Bar’s wife, Kinga is an architect. They have three children: Daniel, 9; Leah, 7; and Ayala, 10 months.
He describes Eshchar as a small village that is a very interesting place because Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews live together in the same community. “I come from a secular background,” he explained, but he has made teshuva – returned to a more observant lifestyle. “I’m shomer Shabbat [an observer of Shabbat],” he added, “and in my free time, I still deal with music a little.”
El-Bar continued, “A very interesting man who is the director of a conservatory for Charedi [a very observant group] people [recently said], ‘Music fills the gap between knowledge and belief,’ and this is the way I see music as well.”
“Being part of the Jewish people is a great responsibility,” he said. “Each of us can be a dry leaf off a tree or a branch.”
People who ignore their heritage and don’t pass it on to their children are like the dry leaves; but those who contribute to Jewish and Israeli culture, use their knowledge to contribute, build on their Jewish spiritual roots and learn from “m’kor mayim chayim,” the source of living water, are the branches.
Each of us has a choice. Will you be a dry leaf or a branch?
To learn more about the opportunities Partnership2Gether has for you contact Sara Wagner at the Jewish Community of Louisville, firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2779.