Federation’s Finance Director flies to Israel to see Jacksonville’s dollars at work

 

BY PAT BURKE
Finance Director
patb@jewishjacksonville.org

 

Recently, the Finance and Technical Professional Institute (FTPI), which includes finance and IT professionals from Jewish Federations across North America, completed a weeklong tour of Israel. It was the first time the group had toured the country in a dozen years, as FTPI participants traditionally meet each year in different U.S. cities for training and networking.

 

As the representative from the JacksonvilleFederation, I am pleased to report the trip was a huge success and a true adventure for all participants. Packed into six days were stops in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Galilee, the Golan Heights, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. We had 110 participants riding in three tour buses, and each day was unique. It was a wonderful trip that included an intimate look at Israel’s ancient history with the nation’s current day activities.

 

Over the course of the trip, we saw incredible activities happening in Israel. Among our many stops, we visited three schools, several small businesses, and a medical facility which are recipients of funding through our Federation’s allocations. The schools are seeing excellent results working with at-risk kids, while the medical facility is doing incredible work with the disabled, and the businesses would not have survived if it weren’t for the special loan funds. It was great to see the many success stories of the programs that benefitted from of our annual campaign dollars.

 

In recounting the ancient history of Israel, we toured the Jaffa port area (Tel Aviv), the Sea of Galilee, Masada (in the Judean Desert), and the Old City in Jerusalem. We spent a good amount of time in the Old City, and it was quite incredible. In addition, Masada struck me as particularly interesting, because as we toured the hilltop, I was thinking how amazing it must have been to live on Masada. In looking at the recent history of Israel, the group toured Independence Hall (Tel Aviv), the Golan heights and the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. In the Golan, we took a Jeep tour of the Syrian border and while there, we learned about the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict as well as the status of the current Syrian civil war.

 

One of our stops was in Haifa where we learned aboutthe latest technology breakthroughs at Technion University. Technion is helping launch technology startup companies like ReWalk Robotics, which through a live demonstration, we saw how ReWalk’s products allow paraplegics to walk. The weeklong tour of Israel was packed with one adventure after another and it was incredible to see and experience so much of the country. For me, the tour was the perfect balance of the old, the not-so-old, and the new. My thanks to the Jewish Federation of North America for their help in setting up the tour in addition to the many vendors that sponsor FTPI events, as money from the sponsors helped substantially reduce the cost of the trip.