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By Bernice Malka Living Bridge Coordinator
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On a very hot afternoon of July, the family trip of Bnai Amoona synagogue from St. Louis, led by Rabbi Carnie Rose arrived to the partnership region of Yokneam Megiddo for a short visit.

Family visits are always exciting and this time was devoted to a “Mifgash” – a personal encounter, with members from Kibbutz Megiddo who are actively involved in establishing a progressive Jewish community in their neighborhood. After a short tour of the Kibbutz and a briefing about the challenges of privatization process and absorption of new families we all met at the home of Yael Katz, one of the group’s leading volunteers.

The children met with their Israeli partnership buddies and set of for a juggling workshop where laughter and joy assisted in overcoming language barriers.

The adults introduced each other and then shared their respective Shabbat experiences, ways Shabbat is practiced in their homes and the importance of it to each family. It was very interesting to hear about the different community experiences of Shabbat as well as to learn about what we all have in common and what different rituals we each have. It seemed like Shabbat as the connecting theme throughout the entire conversation, even though we all live in different communities and countries Rabbi Carnie Rose: “The visit to the region was phenomenal! In a short time we managed to bond and to create real bridges. While the kids were enjoying themselves on their own, we adults were able to engage in a conversation that was so deep and real, it was like meeting old friends and continuing a conversation from the middle.”

Rabbi Rose continues: “For us it was an eye opener to learn about the efforts being done by volunteers in Yokneam and Megiddo to create a liberal pluralistic community and the many challenges they need to deal with on the way to fulfill their dream. We enjoyed learning about the similarities we share as well as about the gaps and what the differences are in our cultures, attitudes and outlook on Jewish identity. One thing that left us with some food for thought was that while we talk a lot about religion and less about spirituality, it was apparent that our Israeli hosts refer much more to spirituality and much less to religion. The visit left us with a wish to continue the relationship and a feeling that there is definitely much to build upon!”

We are grateful to the Federation of St. Louis that supports and encourages the “Mifgashim” in the partnership region. The Jewish Federation of St. Louis has been a founding supporter of the new progressive community in Megiddo as part of federation’s strategy of ensuring Jewish continuity and enhancing Jewish pluralism. The mifgash between Bnai Amoona and their Israeli hosts was made possible thanks to the Federation.