Kiryat Yam: Tidewater’s Sister City in Israel

by | Sep 4, 2016 | Other News

Young adult Kiryat Yam residents to visit Tidewater this month

A seaside town with beautiful beaches. A vibrant arts and music culture. A diverse and pluralistic Jewish community comprised of people from all backgrounds. Rumors of mermaid sightings in the water. No, this is not a description of Tidewater; rather, it’s Kiryat Yam, a remarkably similar city on the Mediterranean Sea in Israel.

With all of these similarities, a partnership and exchange program between the Center for Young Adults in Kiryat Yam and YAD in Tidewater makes perfect sense.

Founded in 1939, Kiryat Yam is a suburb of Haifa, with a population of approximately 45,000. The seaside city is home to one of the largest concentrations of Ethiopian immigrants in Israel, and half of its residents are from the former Soviet Union. This large immigrant population is due to the city’s immigration absorption center, located right on the beach. Additionally, around 2,000 Holocaust survivors currently reside in Kiryat Yam.

“Tidewater is a community that cares a lot about Israel, and Kiryat Yam is a place that needs a lot of support and care,” says Leah Abrams, YAD director, in reference to Kiryat Yam’s vital absorption center and survivor community.

“It is important for Tidewater to have a partnership in Israel, for both young adults and children, to establish a relationship to last l’dor v’dor, or for generations.”

While YAD has financially supported projects in Kiryat Yam, such as the Center for Young Adults and an early childhood center, this is the first year that the two cities are rolling out an exchange program.

Kiryat Yam residents will visit Tidewater this month, and YAD members will take a trip to israel in December.

Abrams explains the importance of this upcoming exchange: “To have partnerships, we need to first build relationships. The best way to build these relationships is to see the community in person.”

In addition to visiting the respective cities to learn from each other and see the results of funding, one goal of the exchange is to help educate Tidewater residents about Kiryat Yam so that they will become more invested in a partnership.

When five people from the Center for Young Adults in Kiryat Yam visit Tidewater, they will tour each of the Jewish agencies that United Jewish Federation of Tidewater partners with, attend the annual Campaign Kickoff event, lead cultural programs for adults and children alike, and attend Shabbat services at area synagogues.

Not only will the Kiryat Yam exchange members experience a vibrant oceanfront like the one that they hope to develop on their own beaches, they will also connect with the Tidewater Jewish community and hopefully initiate long-lasting relationships.

Shawn Lemke, a member of the Kiryat Yam committee, is excited about the prospect of this partnership.

“We get to participate in community building from the inside out,” he says. “The adults from Kiryat Yam get to come here and experience our community first hand, learn from our leadership, and develop friendships with us, and then go home to fulfill their goal of establishing a truly vibrant community that can be self sustainable.”

Madeline Budman