Tel Mond, Israel

Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS) has eight sister cities. Tel Mond Israel is one of Sarasota’s eight sister cities. The mission of Sister Cities Association of Sarasota is to foster international relationships between Sarasota and cities that have similar interests by creating exchanges in areas of culture, education, tourism, business, and government.

Tel Mond is located in the beautiful Sharon Valley. Although it is a regional center, it is surrounded by orange groves in a lovely pastoral setting. Like Sarasota, it is a growing community which supports cultural interests. Tel Mond was founded in 1929 by Sir Alfred Moritz Mond, a former British president of the British Zionist Federation. In the beginning there was only sand. The first settlers arrived from Eastern Europe. In 1948, the second major wave of immigrants came from the Arab lands of Iran, Iraq, and Yemen. In 1982, Tel Mond became part of a program called Project Renewal conceived by then Prime Minister Manachen Begin. Project Renewal was formed to rehabilitate distressed areas of the country. 

Tel Mond was twinned with the Jewish community of Sarasota. Coordination, visitations, exchanges, and dialogue between many citizens in the community brought a new understanding to relationships within both communities. This commitment was extended through various visits and special projects. 

In 1995, Sarasota Mayor David Merrill encouraged Sarasota to explore including Tel Mond in the SCAS program. In March 1998, the International Sister Cities meeting was held in Jerusalem and Sarasota Mayor Gene Pillot went to Tel Mond with some Sarasota residents for a meeting with Moshe Babel-Pour (Executive Director of Matnas Center in Tel Mond), and Shlomo Ratzabi (Tel Mond Mayor) for the official signing of the proclamation to establish a permanent relationship between the two cities. In 1999, Mayor Shlomo Ratzabi headed a delegation to Sarasota to complete the official Sister City proclamation process with Sarasota Mayor Mollie Cardamore. Sarasota and Tel Mond residents have had many exchanges.

In the 1980s and 1990s, high school students from Tel Mond were camp counselors in Sarasota. In the 1990s, college students from Sarasota were camp counselors in Tel Mond. Many trips have been coordinated by various groups in Sarasota to visit Israel and Tel Mond is often on the itinerary. Singing and dance groups from Tel Mond have performed in Sarasota for large audiences at the Van Wezel and the Bea Friedman Auditorium as well as area schools.

In 1998, Sister Cities International selected the SCAS Video Boot Camp as the Best Youth Program Camp. The Video Boot Camp involved students from Santo Domingo, Hamilton, Perpignan, Vladimir, Tel Mond, and Sarasota. This camp was initially planned for Tel Mond to encourage its youth to enter the field of cable communications but was open to all of Sarasota’s Sister Cities. In the end, 20 students from the Sister Cities and four area Sarasota high schools were able to mesh their different cultures.

In 1996, Tel Mond resident Bat-Chen was killed on her 15th birthday by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center. Bat-Chen had always wanted to be a writer. After her death, her parents gathered her diaries and published a book. Her mother visited Sarasota and spoke about her daughter’s book in Sarasota’s schools and community.
In 2001, students participated in Pen Pal programs, City In A Box program, and four Tel Mond students became the first international winners of Florida Studio’s Young Playwright Festival.

In 2004, Tel Mond participated in a Children’s Art Exhibition at Ringling College of Art and Design.

In 2005, Sid Krupkin, a SCAS member, and Elie Matstree of Tel Mond combined to compose “Sarasota and Tel Mond” and became the first Sarasota Sister City to have a song written about the relationship between the two cities.

In 2006, Tel Mond was the first international city to participate in the Embracing Our Differences exhibit on Sarasota’s Bayfront and has had several winners over the years.

In 2007, a Sarasota resident visited a Tel Mond home filled with photographs of Tel Mond. These photos prompted the idea to have a photo contest among Sarasota and all of its Sister Cities. In 2009, the 60 winning international photos were displayed at a “People and Places” exhibit at the Ringling College of Art and Design. Currently, 16 of these photos hang in the Sarasota City Hall.

In 2013, SCAS hosted an International Conference on “Sustainability through Renewable Energy & Aquaculture” at the University of South Florida in Sarasota. Representatives from six of our nine sister cities and from four area colleges and universities gave presentations at the conference. Over 300 people were in attendance. The theme for the first day of the conference was Sustainability Concepts and Practices; in this session Professor Ori Lahav, the Sister City delegate for Tel Mond provided an enlightening presentation on “Improving the Quality of Desalinated Seawater”. Professor Lahav is planning to develop cooperative work with Dr. Kevan Main, the Director of the Mote Marine Laboratory Aquaculture Facility in Sarasota.

In April 2014, a group of thirteen visitors participated in a special SCAS delegation to Tel Mond and other parts of Israel. The group met with Mayor Roni Golan, Council members, and various members of the community. Meeting with the group, Mayor Golan pledged an active relationship with Sarasota and Tel Mond. The delegation shared a unique Shabbat experience with families in Tel Mond. A special ceremony recognized the previous winners of the Florida Studio Theatre Young Playwrights program. Certificates were presented to the former winners and the teacher who led the program. 


Linda Rosenbluth past president of SSCA and first City Director for Tel Mond, Israel and her husband, Bob, were visiting Tel Mond with Smadar Dromy, former chair of Tel

Mond’s Sister City Committee, on the day of Giliad Shalit’s release in October 2011.

The swap that traded 1000 Palestinians for one soldier was not without controversy within the general population of Israel. Despite the debate, Smadi’s comment Linda thought reflected the thoughts of all Israeli’s that day. Smadi said that it was like a stone was taken from everyone’s heart. On that day Giliad was everyone’s son. Signs and flags were out all over Israel welcoming Giliad home. Udi Segal, one of the students who visited Sarasota and is now a correspondent for Israel’s. Channel 2 news covered the event.

With her three children Smadi and Linda watched the controversial interview by Shahira Amin, Egypt’s most famous TV journalist, of Giliad on Egyption TV before his helicoper flight to an army base in northern Israel. On the plane Gilliad was checked by an Israeli IDF doctor.  Prime Mister Netanyhu, Defense Minister Barak, as well as his Mother and Father greeted Gilliad as he disembarked from the plane.

After a medical checkup Giliad was flown home where his neighbors welcomed him home with flags and signs along the road leading to his house and from the windows and porches along the way too.

Linda said each visit to Israel is special but this was a unique experience. It was a deeply emotional time in Israel and being among our friends in Tel Mond has enabled her to develop an even deeper understanding of life in Israel.

Two interesting facts

To protect the family’s privacy there was only one photographer and one videographer that were allowed to cover this event.

Any pictures or video had to be approved by the family.

Giliads mother had a big bowl of Bomba his favorite snack food waiting for him on his arrival (Bomba is like our cheese curls in the US but it is made out of peanuts and sometimes is filled with peanut butter or chocolate).

Linda Rosenbluth

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.