Partnership2Gether brings Israeli teens to Minneapolis

Photos by Sofya Barth

We can’t say we were too thrilled about the April snowstorm, but we know eleven teenagers who were ecstatic.


Visiting from Rehovot, Israel, this group of teenagers was part of a teen program through Partnership2Gether, a program housed at Federation’s Israel Center. The group was baking challah with the Sabes JCC’s inclusion program when the snow began to pick up steam.

“Have you guys ever seen snow before?” asked one inclusion program participant who alternated between enthusiastically asking about life in Israel, and giving tips for a successful challah loaf. Most of the Israelis hadn’t seen much snow, and were itching to get outside.


Later, the teens would identify their challah baking experience as one of the most important activities they participated in all week. “It’s very special to see how the community treats people [with special needs],” says Elad Azachi, who served as the delegation’s teen instructor. In Israel, he says, the special needs community is largely relegated to the fringes of society. “So when I saw this, how they are a meaningful part of society, it was very touching.”

On their last night, the teens and their host families met at the home of Wendy and Nisso Khabie for “Cousins in the Living Room,” a forum for frank and open discussion started by the Rehovot/Minneapolis partnership that is gaining traction in other communities.

Cousins in the Living Room speaks to the core of the Partnership2Gether mission: building a stronger, human to human connection between Israelis and Americans.

Seated on couches or cross legged on the floor, participants were instructed to ask their burning questions about life in Israel or life in Minneapolis. They discussed anti-Semitism, the Israeli elections, and marriage (most Israelis in the room said they absolutely planned to marry Jewish, most Americans were pretty sure.)

“Do you think all Jews should move to Israel?” someone asked.

“Not all Jews need to move to Israel,” answered one Israeli participant, “but there is a place in Israel for all Jews.”