By Rotarian Ephraim Pri-Har, District 2490, Israel
We were approached by District 2400, Sweden, almost a year ago and, after some correspondence, agreed for their team to visit our district on a Rotary Friendship Exchange in October 2014. Given the instability in Israel earlier this year, we were uncertain whether the exchange would come through, but happily, it worked out and 11 Rotarians arrived on 21 October for a short visit.
We tried our best to show our guests as much of our country as possible during a busy five days. My club, the Rotary Club of Givatayim, hosted a welcome party in our visitors’ honor. Governor Mali Levi, District Treasurer Haim Kennet, the Mayor of Givatayim Mr. Ran Kunik, and many Rotarians from ten clubs participated in this festive evening.
The following day we visited the Dead Sea where our visitors enjoyed bathing and seeing the unique natural beauty of this area. Here they also had an opportunity to visit one of our local Rotary projects. Our guests met children from the Czech Republic who came for skin treatment, a great project made possible by Rotary clubs in Israel and our international partners in the Czech Republic.
The visiting team was hosted by the Rotary Club of Ramla, five clubs from the Haifa area, and the Nazareth Rotary Club and met many local Rotarians during their visit. As the exchange organizer, I took care that local Rotarians accompanied our guests and shared information about the interesting places they visited throughout their entire trip.
Our new friends from District 2400 sent a heartfelt note upon returning back home to Sweden:
Thank you very much for all the wonderful days in Israel! With your extensive program, we received an introduction to Christianity and the history of the Jews in a fantastic way with knowledgeable guides. I especially remember the Swedish-speaking Rabbi, the Dutch guide in Jerusalem, and the city’s unique feeling of history converging with modernism. . The bath in the Dead Sea and meeting the children and youngsters with skin diseases from the Czech Republic was also special. Your environment has proven healing power.
It was exciting to be guided in old Akko’s upper and lower town, see Caesarea, and walk around Nazareth with its churches. Capernaum, we also know from the Bible. It was wonderful to experience so much history that unites so many people and makes Israel a hub for us all.
Israel is a small country but we realised that it takes a long time to travel between the different cities. Please pass along our greeting to our driver Yair, with thanks for taking us safely on the busiest roads and guiding us through Caesarea.
We appreciated that so many Rotarians from different clubs came to meet us and that the club in Nazareth moved their meeting to Saturday for us. Last but not least, we remember with great warmth our fantastic hosts in Ramla. They did everything for us and provided us with everything we needed for each day’s activities. They hosted such a nice evening in the beautiful old city of Jaffa. What a memories!
Unfortunately, we met the hosts in Haifa and Nazareth in haste, but they showed us anyway great generosity and invited us to their homes in the best way. It would have been nice to get to know them a little more.
Thank you again for seeing us off at the airport. Now we hope that our new friends from District 2490 will come and visit us next summer. We are excited to show you our Rotary District 2400, invite you to our homes in Kristianstad and Karlskrona, and return the generosity you showed us.
On behalf of our RFE team,
Despite being a small district, we are very glad to host a group of Rotary Friendship Exchange visitors every year and build friendships and partnerships with our Rotary peers from around the world.
Last year, we had the pleasure of hosting Rotarians from Texas, USA, and next year we plan to visit our new friends in District 2400. We look forward to continuing to share our culture, history, and projects by welcoming many more Rotarian friends to District 2490 in years to come.
Learn more about Rotary Friendship Exchanges online and contact your District Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair for information about how you can get involved.