Montreal honoured with Beer Sheva’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Jack Hasen accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Montreal's Jewish community.

Jack Hasen accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Montreal's Jewish community.

The Beer Sheva Municipal Awards Committee has honoured the Montreal Jewish community with its 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award. This marks only the second time in the city’s history that the prestigious award has been conferred, and the first to a community. It is a glowing tribute to Montreal, to the role we have played in developing the capital of the Negev, and to the close personal relationships between our cities.

For more than 20 years, Montreal has been twinned with Beer Sheva in a partnership through which Montrealers have made significant contributions to the city’s progress by investing in local educational, welfare, and community programs.

In a congratulatory letter, Mayor Ruvik Danilovich wrote, “Montreal’s strong and enduring relationship with the people of Beer Sheva is a partnership built on commitment one to the other, and sharing and caring together to make a difference. Montreal has been, and remains, an inherent part of the city of Beer Sheva.”

Among the landmarks made possible by Montrealers are the Greenberg Education Centre, a centre for excellence in education, Beit Cohen, a residential facility for adults with special needs, and Ayalim, a residential facility for youth at risk. Donations from Montreal help to fund innovative programs like Start-up, which helps young adults to find employment, and Adonim, which provides mentors and support so that at risk youth can stay in school and realize their full potential.

Over the past five years, through leadership, volunteer, and personal initiatives, 220 delegations, made up of 3,300 people, have been exchanged between the communities. Montrealers have invested in more than ten capital projects in the city. More than 4,000 children and 200 educators have participated in the Gesher Chai program, which connects Jewish schools and camps in Montreal with Beer Sheva.

Photo : Stephen Shames (JFNA)

Photo : Stephen Shames (JFNA)

Federation CJA supports volunteer missions to Beer Sheva, including the Kefiada program, which has brought young adults to work at summer camps with children who might not otherwise enjoy such an experience. The connections that have been made serve to foster long-term relationships that result in strong personal ties. This is a critical identity-building exercise, as it instills affection for the historic Jewish homeland in Montrealers, while giving the Israelis a sense of connection with the wider Jewish world.

Federation CJA, the umbrella organization for Montreal’s Jewish community, has spearheaded the relationship with Beer Sheva, encouraging support for projects and helping to foster connections between our two communities.

“We always recognized Beer Sheva as a city of great potential filled with people of great determination,” reflected Federation CJA President Jack Hasen upon accepting the award in Israel. “Montrealers are grateful that we have developed lasting personal relationships with one another. These have really solidified the innate connection that all Jews feel to the land of Israel. It gives us a direct point of reference. Moreover, our joint efforts to develop the Negev give us experiences that fuel our pride in Israel’s great achievements.”

The benefits of the Montreal – Beer Sheva partnership are reciprocal and reaffirm the Diaspora – Israel connection. Federation CJA was proud to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the entire Jewish community.