Connecting with Israel: A Visit to Bechor Levi

By Julie Ziessman

During winter break Maia Poling and I had the honor of traveling to Israel to visit our twinning school, Bechor Levi, in Rehovot, Israel. The city of Rehovot is located about 12 miles south of Tel Aviv. It has a population of about 115,000 and is one of the first communities founded in the modern State of Israel. The greater Minneapolis Jewish community is paired with Rehovot through Partnership2Gether, or P2G, a program connecting over 500 Jewish communities in the Diaspora with 45 Israel Partnership areas. The program focuses on people-to-people interaction, building community and leadership.

Heilicher administrator

Maia and I traveled with teams of school administrators from Bet Shalom and Temple Israel who are also partnered with schools in Rehovot. Each school team consisted of a principal or director and a school twinning coordinator. This was the third face-to-face meeting of the schools. Minneapolis sent a delegation of educators two years ago and Rehovot sent a delegation to Minneapolis last winter.

During our visit Maia and I participated in several meetings with the larger delegations of staff from both Minneapolis and Rehovot. We talked a lot about the differences between being Jewish in Israel and being Jewish in the Diaspora. We discussed some of the misperceptions that Israelis have about people from the United States and the misperceptions that American Jews have of Israelis. Although we are all Jews, the way we live our day-to-day Jewish lives is very different.

One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to Bechor Levi, a school with grades first through sixth. Heilicher currently has classroom connections with two first grade classes, a second grade class, a third grade class and a sixth grade class at Bechor Levi. Each of these classes participate in about three joint projects during the school year.

Maia and I had the privilege of teaching in each of these classrooms. We shared a slideshow and handmade puzzles with pictures of places in Minneapolis and different spots around Heilicher. Each child at our school made a beaded necklace or bracelet for the children in each of these classes. The sixth graders made special lanyard keychains. Each of our classes also taped special video greeting for their twinning class. Maia and I met with the Bechor Levi staff to discuss the current state of our partnership and how we can strengthen our ties in the future.  

Watch a great video recap of our experience here.

Thank you to the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Minneapolis Jewish Federation for making this trip possible. If you would like to learn more about Partnership 2Gether and the relationship between the Minneapolis and the Rehovot communities please visit


  • Bechor Levi
  • Heilicher
  • Israel

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