Last Week When I Was Sleeping In Columbus, Ohio, I Got a Phone Call from the Mayor of Jerusalem
As a fighter pilot who flew 35 years to protect the State of Israel from an external threat, I realized after my retirement that our internal lack of unity was an even bigger threat.
For the last three years I’ve dedicated most of my time (voluntarily) to the mission of creating unity among the different factions in the Israeli society. Everyone in Israel knows that we have a big problem and that it threatens our future, but people do not know what to do. It happens to us again and again, even as it happened just this week with the violence against Ethiopian Jews. Unfortunate, but not a surprise.
Three years ago with Mr. Avihu Sofer and a few other partners, we started to build a coalition of more than 250 organizations. The result was founding Meetchabrim (Connecting), an open network of organizations working to foster mutual responsibility and a sense of unity and “peoplehood” among all sectors of Israeli society in order to create a common future at the community, city and national levels. Within the first 18 months, 50,000 people participated in a variety of programs and events held in 55 locations throughout Israel. To date more than 200 organizations have joined the Meetchabrim network and senior Israeli leaders have engaged with us, including former President Shimon Peres, 120 mayors, and leaders in many government offices, the IDF and the business sector.
Last week when I was sleeping in Columbus while dreaming about the lectures we had during the 30th Anniversary event, I got a phone call from the Mayor of Jerusalem who informed me that I had won The National Unity Prize. The President of Israel has invited me, as well as three others, to receive the prize on Unity Day, the 3rd of June 2015. This prize and this national day are new and are a joint initiative among the families of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, the three teens kidnapped and murdered by terrorists last summer on June 3rd. The prize is a sign of approval for our work and the many people who act in our network; it will help us to leverage public interest and cooperation.
As a result, we plan to leverage this moment and run 40 to 50 events at the very same moment of the ceremony at the President’s House, not only all over Israel but one in Boston and possibly another one in NY.
Fellow Wexner leaders, if you want to be part of this multi-community event on June 3rd just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brigadier General (res.) Ram Shmueli is a Wexner Israel Fellowship alum (Class 11). Ram is a senior IDF Air Force commander, combat pilot and former head of Air Force intelligence. Since his honorable discharge from active duty, he has leveraged his leadership skills to promote social change. He established Meetchabrim in 2012 as a platform to create connections among different groups, developing a language of dialogue to address common interests. Ram also serves as the chairperson of “Hashomer” a volunteer organization that guards Kfar Galim-youth village. Ram can be reached at email@example.com.