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The Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, visited Jerusalem with the Minister of Education, Research and Science Heinz Faßmann and a delegation of 60 government officials and journalists.

The delegation spent time at the Herzl Museum and the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education, both built by the Jerusalem Foundation.

At the Herzl Museum, the delegation had an opportunity to experience the multimedia journey through the life of  Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism. Herzl himself lived in Vienna for most of his life and published his main body of the work “The Jewish State” from the Austrian capital.

Donors from all over the world supported the establishment of the Herzl Museum, including the Austrian Chancellor’s Office, Hans Dichand (Kronenzeitung) and the Israel and the Austrian Ministries of Education, and the World Zionist Organization.

The delegation also visited with high school students at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education, the only school in the world where Hebrew and Arabic speaking students learn together, in both languages, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The delegation was received by staff of the Hand in Hand School and welcomed by Irene Pollak from the Jerusalem Foundation. This is not the first time that an Austrian delegation was received at the school, but this is indeed the first time we were honored to welcome the Austrian Chancellor and his Education Minister at the same time.

“This is a very valuable project, one that builds a path towards coexistence and creates hope for the future,” said Minister Faßmann.

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The Jerusalem Foundation built the school’s campus thanks to support from United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Austria and continues to raise funds for a new high school building. The Austrian Development Agency, the Chancellor’s Office, the Ministry for Education and Hans Dichand (Kronenzeitung), funded the school’s library and administrative offices. During the Chancellor’s visit today, the Chancellor and the Minister donated $15,000 to Hand in Hand School, on behalf of the Austrian government.

The connection between Vienna and Jerusalem was not lost on the delegation during their visit. Teddy Kollek, the legendary Mayor of Jerusalem and founder of the Jerusalem Foundation, spent much of his youth in Vienna, and like Herzl, was deeply committed to the State of Israel. There remain strong ties between Vienna and Jerusalem, a city that often honors Kollek’s contributions to Jerusalem and to shared living in the city.

Photo credit: Sasson Tiram