Partnership2Gether (P2G). Ever hear of it? What about Partnership 2000? They are one in the same. But unless you are a Jewish community insider or Israel junkie, you probably haven’t … though it’s likely you, your children or grandchildren have been touched by it.

Since 1994, the Detroit Jewish community has partnered with Israel’s central Galilee region via a Jewish Agency for Israel/United Jewish Appeal initiative pairing 27 American Jewish communities with socioeconomically challenged areas. The intention was to create a partnership of equals with broad and deep people-to-people relationships. It would also serve as a modest counterbalance to the highly mechanized funding allocation models that impersonally funneled charitable dollars from Federation annual campaigns to quasi-governmental bodies in Israel for distribution.

Twenty-five years later, the Detroit/Michigan partnership with the central Galilee region is the initiative’s most successful. It has connected literally thousands of Detroiters and Michiganders with individual Israelis. From Tamarack campers to host families, physicians to breakthrough treatments, English teachers to middle-school students, mayors and council members to legislators and governors, archaeologists to the ruins at Zippori, hospice innovators to medical staffs in need of end-of-life counseling capabilities … teen musicians, Maccabi game athletes, newspaper editors, family bar/bat mitzvah trips, missions of almost every size and flavor … and the list goes on.

Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit leaders deserve our appreciation for seeing the potential of the Partnership 2000 initiative and making the ongoing, though largely quiet, investment of human resources and dollars — likely exceeding $25 million — in it.

At a time when hyper-charged political atmospheres in Israel and America are causing consternation among many Detroit Jews, chipping away at the once solidly bipartisan support Israel enjoyed regardless of political party affiliation, religion or gender, the people-to-people relationships fostered by P2G are more critical than ever.

Despite the successes, there are no known plans here to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Partnership2Gether … there have already been celebrations in the central Galilee by our partners.

Federation must seize the opportunity to more fully educate and inform the community about the impact this wise and noncontroversial investment of charitable dollars has on those living in the central Galilee region. It should also lay out its vision for sustaining and strengthening this program in the coming years, assuring it continues to provide ways for Jewish Detroiters to bypass political agendas and embrace the people of Israel … those who have names, faces, hopes, dreams, challenges and will always treat you like family.

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