Tuesday, June 28

Around and About with Mindi: Israel

Indianapolis Delegation 2011 (front): Krista Bermeo, Dana Goot, (back): Mindi Epstein, Kelly Spiegel, Stephanie Montague, Freddie Kelvin
by Mindi Epstein

Borders with enemy states, checkpoints, mandatory military service and a chaotic political system do not impede the Israelis’ exuberance for life. Their passion is pervasive and it is contagious. I know, because I just returned from a 2-week trip to Israel.

My purpose for going?
Actually, there were three:

Studio of the late Shmuel Katz,
Holocaust survivor and
award-winning artist.

  • As an artist selected to participate in an Artist in Residency program in the Western Galilee, the region of Israel with which Indianapolis enjoys a partnership. 

  • As an Israeli, having acquired citizenship in the early 90s and returning home after 16 years.

This first blog highlights the JCC’s partnership region in the Western Galilee.

Partnership 2000 was conceived by the Jewish Agency for Israel to establish relationships between Israelis and Americans. Where does the money go when your local Jewish Federation reports that a portion of donations go to Israel? What one learns from Partnership is that there are real people at the receiving end of the check. 
Rambam School in Akko

With our Federation’s support,
our partnership has:

  • Aided in funding the Western Galilee Hospital’s underground hospital where 250 patients can be moved to safety
    in less than 20 minutes, as happened
    during the Lebanon War of 2006.

  • Developed a shared learning project with children at a grammar school in Akko and Hasten Hebrew Academy here in Indianapolis.

  • Supported a network of community centers serving small towns and villages of both Jews and Arabs dotting the hills of the Western Galilee. 

  • Assisted in fortifying the border with Lebanon with an advanced
    security system.

The accomplishments I saw have had a profound and sustainable impact on thousands of lives.

There are 45 partnership regions in Israel. After spending 2 weeks in our region with the five other members of the Indianapolis delegation, I can tell you that we got lucky! The Western Galilee is spectacular and too often overshadowed by Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during a typical trip to Israel.

Pomegranate Flowers
The region is just 6 miles south of the border with Lebanon. You would never know it. The Mediterranean Sea, rolling hills, aromatic flowers and fruits, significant archaeological sites, including the city of Akko itself, friendly Arab and Druze villages, boutique wineries, and dramatic sea caves define this region that is Israel’s northernmost coastal region. The arts flourish here where they are nurtured in small kibbutzim tucked in the hills.

I can tell you that I met terrific people, which I did. I can tell you that I had a fantastic time, which I did. I can tell you that the beautiful region has inspired me to paint, which it did. But the most important thing I can tell you is that I returned home with a sense of pride that we in Indianapolis have contributed greatly to the value of lives of regular people like you and me who live
in Israel.

More about Mindi Epstein


  1. Sounds like you had a lovely trip! I can’t wait until I get to go too!

  2. Fantastic - enjoy reading your writing, as always!

  3. Thanks, Deb! There will be more to come.

  4. Nice post. I wish you come back to visit Israel soon.

  5. Thank you for your comment! I hope to come back soon too. In fact, my hope is more defined than that - I would like to bring a group from Indianapolis to work on an archaeological dig.