Jerusalem Foundation International Council Meetings in Madrid

Jerusalem Foundation International Council Meetings In Madrid 1

Day 1 of the Jerusalem Foundation International Council Meetings in Madrid


The Jerusalem Foundation International Council Meetings opened in Madrid in the Garrigues Auditorium and Honorary Chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation in Spain, Leon Benelbas welcomed over 100 participants. Mr. Benelbas referred to the complicated reality of Jerusalem and explained that the Jerusalem Foundation is the only organization that reaches out to all communities in the city and has accomplished so much in 49 years.  He then introduced the Foreign Minister of Spain, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.


Some of his remarks included:

“One of the many titles of the King of Spain is King of Jerusalem – please let me welcome you to Sepharad – I am sure it is a homeland to many of you.  Jewish civilization contributed like few others to the development of Spain. Contributions of astronomers and philosophers, doctors - with their departure – Spain lost a part of its soul.  Since then we have travelled a long path to fill this void.  In relations between peoples, there is room for many things but no room for hate. 

The act of reconciliation, granting Spanish citizenship to Jews of Spanish descent is justified by a common determination to be together in a place for peaceful coexistence and concord and bring back the communities expelled from Spain.”

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The rest of the morning program included a presentation by Chairman of the Israel Board, David Brodet, of the accomplishments of 2014 and the projects in focus for 2015/16.  He then introduced our new President, Johanna Arbib, who greeted participants and spoke about her commitment to the city of Jerusalem and to getting to know the Jerusalem Foundation family. Our host and friend, Mr. Garrigues related some of the special aspects of his connection to Jerusalem and the assembled friends heard briefly on the phone from Ruth Cheshin back in Jerusalem how much we all missed having her with us.


Worldwide updates from the different regions around the world included new areas for the Jerusalem Foundation, including the new head of our Euro-Asia operation.  All participants were very excited to meet Mr. Ya’akov Soskin, who has agreed to establish the Jerusalem Foundation in Moscow.


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The afternoon session led by International Chairman, Sallai Meridor, was an important and meaningful dialogue on how to best leverage the 50th anniversary of the Jerusalem Foundation in 2016 to raise the profile of the organization to strengthen ties with our old friends and to create new connections to a younger generation of donors.


The evening concluded with a lovely cocktail reception at the Intercontinental Hotel hosted by Mr. Leon Benelbas which featured personal greetings delivered via video message from the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who missed being with us in Madrid but is waiting for all of us next year in Jerusalem!


JF International Council Meetings - Day 2 Madrid

The Second day in Madrid started with a wonderful private closed door tour of the incredible Del Prado Museum.  From Goya to Picasso and everything in between and much more, skilled guides tried to show some of the hundreds of highlights of the Museum to the guests in a short time.

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We then travelled to Centro Sefarad and we were welcomed by its Director, Miguel de Lucas who explained the work of Centro Sefarad as a public diplomacy agent.  The participants also heard from Isaac Querub, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, who spoke about anti-semitism in Spain….

A very special exhibition of photographs of Jerusalem is currently on display in Casa Sefarad in cooperation with the Jerusalem Foundation, photographs by Sasson Tiram.

The Israeli Ambassador to Spain, Alon Bar, gave an interesting lecture on the history of diplomatic relations between Israel and Europe.

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The third session of the Council meetings presented by Naftali Spitzer and Adi Muggia from Shir Spitzer Branding Company detailed the research that has been done on the current standing of the Jerusalem Foundation in the philanthropic marketplace and then presented new strategic directions for discussion.  A fruitful and creative dialogue ensued and all of the ideas and recommendations will be summarized and shared in order to move to the next stage of adopting a new marketing strategy and its implementation.

The day concluded with a late dinner at La Castafiore restaurant with opera music, good food, singing Jerusalem of gold and dancing.


Day 3 - Toledo


The Jerusalem Foundation International Council participants travelled to Toledo and were welcomed by the newly elected Mayor of the city in the official reception hall.  There was a moving ceremony in the grand setting and the Mayor spoke about the similarities between the two cities and the historic connection.  Following a small ceremony and after a reception in the lower floor of city hall, the group departed on a tour of the Jewish Quarter of Toledo. With two excellent guides, the participants visited the Greco Center as well as Sinagoga de Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia and the Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca. It was a moving experience to walk the streets once populated by a flourishing and famous Jewish community.


Lunch took place at the Fabrica de Harina with a beautiful Sephardic music performance by Ana Alcaide.  She performed songs in Ladindo, Spanish and Hebrew.


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The group was then welcomed by Mr. Juan Ignacio de Mesa, President of the Royal Foundation of Toledo.  He told us that many years ago when he was Mayor of Toledo, he visited Jerusalem and met Teddy Kollek who introduced him to the Jerusalem Foundation.  When he founded the Toledo Foundation it was based on the model of Teddy's Foundation in Jerusalem. From this beautiful building overlooking breathtaking views, we also had the opportunity to hear a lecture on the history of the Jews of Toledo from Carmen Gomez who also guided one of our groups through Toledo...  "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition"....


Finally we had the opportunity to close the Council Meetings with a deep and appreciative thank you from International Chairman, Sallai Meridor, who thanked the professionals of the Jerusalem Foundation for their efforts in making this meeting in Madrid and Toledo possible and also all of our friends from around the world who came to share it with us.


We are grateful to Arie Zehavi, Esther Quereb and the entire Jerusalem Foundation team for their hard work and for making this meeting possible!



September 20-22, 2016


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