Oct. 13 program explores innovations, diversity of RI's partner region in Israel


Matan Graf, a former shaliach (Israeli emissary) to Rhode Island, and Amit Moshe Oren, our new shaliach, will discuss the recent exponential industrial and social growth of our partnership area in Israel, Afula/Gilboa, in a Zoom program on Oct. 13.

The city of Afula and the Gilboa region, in the lower Galilee, is one of the areas in Israel where Arabs and Jews come together to build stronger, healthier communities and to produce products that are used worldwide. Graf, whose family still farms in the area, will share his unique insights during the Zoom program.

Many know Israel as the “start-up nation.” However, few outside of Israel know about Afula/ Gilboa, which was the site of a major trade route in ancient times. Now the area is becoming a central transit point from Tel Aviv to the Galilee, making it ideal for industry. When you swim in a pool, or watch satellite TV, you are probably benefiting from the area’s products.

The ethnically diverse area is a microcosm of Israeli society, and all ethnic groups participate in the burgeoning industries and start-ups. In a presentation that includes a couple of short videos produced by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, the audience will learn how innovation and diversity are common beyond Israel’s urban core.

Graf, now an engineer, served as an Israeli emissary first at Camp JORI, in Wakefield, for a few summers, and then for the Jewish Alliance from 2012 to 2014. During that time, he taught in Jewish schools across the state and conducted programs at the University of Rhode Island and Brown-RISD Hillels, as well as for adults.  He also ran the Alliance’s Israeli Culture Series, a monthly program for adults. The Oct. 13 program will be the first in this season’s Israeli series.

Graf will be interviewed by Oren, who recently arrived in Rhode Island.  Oren, who served as a medic in the Israel Defense Forces, is a published writer of comics and a basketball coach.

Rhode Island, Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts are affiliated with Afula and the Gilboa region through Partnership2Gether, a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America. The Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) of Partnership2Gether provides resources to various communities in the area and builds personal relationships between Israelis and New Englanders.

The free Zoom program will take place at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Please register at www.jewishallianceri.org/ics-industry. For more information, contact Oren at aoren@jewishallianceri.org or 401-421-4111.

LARRY KATZ is director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Israel, Alliance, Israel Culture Series