by Tamar Davis, CEO
This past week, I was with 300 other Boston area friends (over 100 of whom were under the age of 40) participating in the CJP Spark Mission to Israel in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday. 20% of my companions had never been to Israel before, which added even more enthusiasm and curiosity to the atmosphere of the trip. While I’ve been blessed to be in Israel many times, and have four siblings and many nieces and nephews living there, this was my first time exploring the land through the lens of a Bostonian. Visiting our sister city Haifa was a highlight of the uplifting experience: we saw the medical excellence of Rambam hospital, the diversity and tolerance of the student and faculty body at University of Haifa, and the nurturing and love that every child coming to Yemin Orde (a youth village for at-risk teens from around the world) experiences well into their adult years.
It was also eye-opening to experience this trip through my own personal and professional lens of disability inclusion. Everywhere we went, I was able to ask and learn about how Israel is embracing disability inclusion throughout society.
For example, Yemin Orde is staffed with special education teachers in addition to social workers and therapists, in order to fully support these most vulnerable children who have already experienced so much trauma in their young lives. At a dinner in Haifa, I was seated with a member of the staff leadership at the Haifa Association for Immigrant Absorption. We discussed the challenges facing immigrants coming into a new country, and the added complexities that face those immigrant families who have children with disabilities and need to learn to navigate and advocate for their children.
I also had the very special opportunity to be personally introduced to the recently appointed Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Doron Almog, who is personally deeply committed to disability inclusion and accommodation, and who founded a village for the disabled called Nachalat Eran. I hope to visit this village myself on a future trip to Israel.
Even during this tumultuous time in Israel, the trip was a joyful and meaningful experience. I am so grateful to CJP for encouraging me to be part of a cohort of 16 other CEOs and Executive Directors of local Jewish nonprofits, and for the opportunity to get to know so many community leaders from Greater Boston (both long-standing and newly-rising). I look forward to continuing this journey of learning together and connecting more deeply with our Jewish homeland in the years to come.
Chief Executive Officer