By Ben Tinsley
FORT WORTH — Against the backdrop of a special photo exhibit spotlighting the people of Western Galilee, the steering committee for the Partnership2Gether Peoplehood Platform commenced a two-day conference Sunday morning on the grounds of Beth-El Congregation.
As many as 50 out-of-towners traveled to Fort Worth for the event. Thirteen of them were from Israel and two were from Budapest. The rest were from consortium cities:
In state: Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio.
U.S.: Canton, Dayton, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Louisville, Northwest Indiana, Omaha, South Bend, Toledo, Youngstown.
Overseas: Western Galilee (Akko and Matte Asher) and Budapest.
The Fort Worth conference officially begins the process of consideration of the organization’s proposed $500,715 budget for 2016-2017. The previous year’s approved budget was $589,550.
Judy Yuda, director of partnerships for the Jewish Agency for Israel, was upbeat about the conference on Sunday.
“Today is going amazingly,” she said. “We have been talking about ourselves, about our individual committees, how we approach our partnerships and what we want to get out of it. The girls in the office told me this is the ‘Celebration of Partnership.’”
The Partnership2Gether platform is a consortium of United States cites that partner with Western Galilee and Akko. It is divided into task forces in the areas of education, medicine, arts, resource development and a partnership with the communities of Budapest and Hungary.
Twice a year the steering committee convenes to review past programs and proposed future programs, and to plan budgets for the year, explained Bob Goldberg, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, which hosted the conference.
The photo display was on exhibit in the Great Hall of Beth-El Congregation. The photos were the work of Jan Friedman and Kim Goldberg, who took them on a trip to Western Galilee and Akko.
Albert Ben-Shloosh, general director of the Akko Festival and a longtime Partnership2Gether volunteer, said budget consideration is an important task.
“There are new ideas coming through all the time,” he said, “It’s like a big chain that keeps growing.”
Incidentally, the Akko Festival, otherwise known as the Akko Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre, is a four-day performing arts festival held annually in the city of Akko, Israel, during the intermediate days of Sukkot.
Dave Ravitch, Partnership2Gether co-chair, said the steering committee will convene in Toledo in July for a “very special” meeting.
Ravitch said the budget review process should wrap up around that time.
“That’s when we will finish looking at everything and vote,” he said.
In a letter to the Partnership2Gether group, Co-Chair Michael Aaronson also emphasized the importance of the budget discussions.
“They state our choice of priorities — what we wish to address and help push forward,” Aaronson stated. “Hence, the importance of reaching an agreed agenda and budget.”
Judy Yuda described the Partnership2Gether group as family, with nearly everyone at the conference knowing one another.
Yuda added that now is the time for everyone involved in the budget process to tell their story — what they did the previous year and what they want to do the coming year.
“These two and a half days we are here are for the most part to define who we are and what we are doing,” she said.
In his own letter, Dave Ravitch thanked Bob Goldberg and the Federation for hosting the Fort Worth conference — which included kosher barbecue and a field trip to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo on Monday.
“Things,” Ravitch wrote, “are always bigger in Texas.”