Friday, July 26, 2013

Federation Sends San Diego Local Officials Delegation to Israel

At the Peres Center for Peace where we heard from the
former chief technology advisor to Israeli President Shimon Peres
A bipartisan delegation of prominent San Diego-area officials is traveling in Israel for intensive dialogue and briefings. The educational seminar, led by the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council) and the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, follows a similar seminar for San Diego leaders first conducted in 2009.

The intensive seminar, featuring San Diego-area City Council members, Board of Education leaders, and an Assembly Member, will focus on providing these policymakers with a first-hand understanding of Israel, its rich and dynamic society, and often-times complex realities. The visit, funded by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, and not tax payers, includes meetings with influential figures across Israel’s political and social spectrum, including senior Israeli, Palestinian and Israeli Arab figures.

Our San Diego elected officials with the Mayor of Tel Aviv.
In particular, the delegation will focus on sharing best practices on economic development and technology start-ups, environmental management and renewable energy, desalination technology (critical for San Diego), absorption and integration of immigrant communities, education, and city administration. All of these areas are issues of importance for the communities the San Diego-area officials represent.

Several sessions dealing with Israel’s strategic environment, diversity and inter-group issues and inter-religious cooperation will also be featured during the week-long educational seminar, including initiatives that foster effective coexistence between Arabs and Jews. 

The delegation will also observe how Israel balances the preservation of its heritage with modern municipal management, including energy and water management and the provision of social services, demonstrating the unique challenges and successes of Israeli cities and towns, and models for possible integration by the San Diego-area leaders.  Meetings and demonstrations of cutting-edge technology will take place with clean-tech and high-tech companies to foster opportunities for collaboration and economic partnership, to the benefit of both communities.

Alan Viterbi and Rich Leib at the broader of Syria.
Sam Witkin, Executive Director of Project Interchange, noted, “Project Interchange is tremendously pleased to host this delegation of San Diego-area city council members, education, and community leaders to Israel. These officials represent a diverse set of constituencies, but they share a common interest in job creation, high tech innovation, and the successful absorption and integration of immigrants. As these are key priorities for Israel as well, we hope participants will return home with a better sense of the similarities between their communities and those in Israel.”

Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego, in commenting on the trip said, “Federation is very excited to partner with Project Interchange through our JCRC in order to bring San Diego County elected officials and community leaders to Israel together.  Over our 75+ years of serving the San Diego Jewish Community it has been our privilege to work closely with elected officials at all levels of government.  Trips like this only serve to strengthen our relationships by providing elected officials first-hand experiences of Israel.  We want to thank the elected officials who joined us on this trip.”

Linda Feldman, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council commented that “I am excited to be travelling to Israel with such a dynamic group of elected officials and community leaders.  The opportunity to learn first-hand about Israel and the San Diego community’s connections to this vibrant, democratic ally of the United States in the Middle East is an invaluable experience.”

Delegation participants include:

Council Member John Aguilera
Council Member John Aguilera was elected to the Vista City Council in November, 2010 and served as the Mayor Pro Tem in 2011.

Board of Education Trustee Richard Barrera
Board of Education Trustee Richard Barrera was first elected to the San Diego Unified Board of Education in 2008, and again in 2012. Mr. Barrera was recently appointed to a new position on the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council Board.

Board of Education Trustee Kevin Beiser
Mr. Kevin Beiser is currently the Vice President of San Diego Unified Board of Education and was elected to the School Board in 2010.  Mr. Beiser is also a math teacher in the Sweetwater Union High School District at Granger Junior High School and was named, "San Diego Math Teacher of the Year" in 2009.

City Council Member George Gastil
Council Member George Gastil has served on the Lemon Grove City Council since 2008.  He also serves as Senior Field Representative for California State Assembly member, Shirley Weber. 

City Council Member Tony Kranz
Council Member Kranz was elected to the Encinitas City Council in 2012 and is working to promote policies to protect our natural resources, improve the quality of life and address social justice issues. 

Council Member Alejandra Sotelo-Solis
In 2008, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis was elected to serve on the National City City Council and was re-elected in 2012. 

Assembly Member Shirley Nash Weber

Assembly Member Shirley Nash Weber was elected in November of 2012 to represent California's 79th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Bonita, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City and San Diego.


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