ARSCC 4: Two Mayors Make it Official at SCI Convention July 25 - 28, 2001

The second signing ceremony was scheduled as a centerpiece of the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission’s hosting of the 2001 Sister Cities International Convention. The two mayors were to sign the proclamation as a highlight of the ASCC’s gala for the more the nearly seven hundred delegates that came from across the country and world. The ceremony was titled; “Anatomy of a New Sister City Committee: The Atlanta – Ra’anana Sister City Committee Becomes Official.”

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell invited Ra’anana Mayor Zeev Bielski to attend the SCI Convention and sign the proclamation together.

The signing ceremony that designated official sister city status was featured in the AICCSE’s TechLINKS newsletter.

The Sister Cities International Convention was scheduled for July 25 – 28, 2001. The City of Atlanta, the Mayor’s Office, and the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission provided an ambitious itinerary for the convention delegates.

Mayor Bielski and his wife Caryn visited Atlanta July 24 – 29, 2001 and the Atlanta – Ra’anana Sister City Committee (ARSCC) developed an itinerary that would maximize the opportunity for Mayor Bielski and the ARSCC to be introduced to the Atlanta Jewish Community and other areas of Atlanta life.

I wish to thank former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell for the magnificent support that he contributed to the fabulously successful Atlanta – Ra’anana twinning experience. Mayor Campbell committed an enormous amount of municipal resources, both financial and physical, to the SCI Convention and the Ra’anana Signing Ceremony. The ARSCC will always be grateful to Mayor Campbell for his belief in our mission and commitment of self and city to its birth and being. The ARSCC also graciously acknowledges the outstanding support of former International Affairs Coordinator Maria Pease who organized and coordinated perhaps the most outstanding SCI Gala and Signing Ceremony in the history of the sister cities program and movement.

The City of Atlanta was established as a center for the advancement of civil and human rights by Dr. King, former Mayor Young, the Southern Christian Leadership Council, former President and Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter and countless others. Atlanta, the center of the civil rights movement, is committed to the equality and dignity of its citizens and friendly relations between all of the peoples of the world. The Sister City of Nuremberg, Germany, has modeled itself on Atlanta’s commitment to human rights and dignity. See page two (below) from the Mayor’s Reception Invitation that expresses Atlanta’s moral compass.

The gala and signing ceremony was an elaborate and beautiful affair and memorable evening.

Mayor Campbell and Maria Pease pulled out all the stops for the visiting Mayors from around the world and Mayor Bielski and the new sister city in Israel.

Mayor Bielski and the Ra’anana delegation attended the special reception Mayor Campbell held for the Mayors attending the SCI Convention.

Mayors Bielski and Campbell fixing signature to proclamation document and making the new sister city committee official.

Copy of the Sister City Agreement between the City of Atlanta and Municipality of Ra’anana.

Mayor Bielski addressed the SCI Convention, thanked Mayor Campbell and the City of Atlanta for their extraordinary hospitality, and touchingly proclaimed that he and Israel were dedicated to forging a peace with the Palestinian people which drew loud applause.

Dr. Georgianne Thomas, former ASCC Chair, is recognized for her powerful advocacy for Ra’anana’s creation and wise counsel in guiding the committee to official status. We are pictured enjoying a congratulatory moment.

Three Israeli-themed musical groups entertained the SCI Convention guests. Paz, with its sweet harmonies and melodies, greatly impressed the audience. One member of the group is Rabbi Mark Zimmerman of Congregation Beth Shalom in Dunwoody who provided my son Sasha’s Hebrew education and Bar Mitzvah.

Former ARSCC Vice Chair Aaron Bernstein and Mayor Zeev Bieslki share good cheer and fine food together.

A Parade of Nations is an important component of every SCI convention. The City of Atlanta and the ASCC take particular pride in the organization of the greatest Parade of Nations in the history of SCI conventions. An ARSCC delegation proudly marched in the parade – ARSCC Vice Chair Myrna Cohen held the Ra’anana sign.

Myrna’s daughter Barri and her two adorable grandchildren, Katie and Jake, then aged nine and six, marched with our delegation.

Myrna’s granddaughter carries the Israel flag in the parade that included delegations representing more than twenty countries.

Dyer and Dyer Volvo contributed a convertible for Mayor Bielski and wife Caryn to ride in the parade down Peachtree Street.

The ARSCC organized for Mayor Bielski opportunities for him to meet leaders of the Atlanta Jewish community. On Wed. July 25, 2001, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Community Relations Committee honored Mayor Bielski with a breakfast for him to brief community leaders about Ra’anana and his hopes for expanding cooperation and ties between Atlanta and Ra’anana.

Lavon Mercer played for the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team for nine years – the team’s fans revere Lavon for his loyalty to the team – he often played hurt if necessary which won him great respect. Lavon, a founding ARSCC member, organizes basketball exchanges between Atlanta and Israeli youth groups. Then Israeli Consul Jacob Rosen welcomed Mayor Bielski with a luncheon held at an Israeli restaurant in Toco Hills. Consul Rosen invited Lavon to join us – the Mayor is pictured with Mr. Mercer in front of the restaurant. Lavon has been a great ARSCC supporter over the years.

Founding members Ilan Friedman and Joyce Kushner prepared a summary of the SCI Convention and signing ceremony as an official record and press release.

The following article was published by the Atlanta Jewish Times to educate the public about the new sister city committee.

The Jewish Georgian published Ilan Friedman and Joyce Kushner’s summary / press release.

The AICCSE has been a model international chamber of commerce in expanding trade and investment between Atlanta, Georgia and the Southeastern US and Israel. Tom Glaser, the President and retiring after 21 years of extraordinary leadership, will be honored at the May 30, 2012 Eagle Star Awards Gala that he successfully founded. Below is an email from Tom that displays a commitment to joint economic development efforts between Atlanta and Ra’anana.

As noted earlier, the Jewish Federation of Atlanta blessed the ARSCC’s creation but remained focused on Yochneam – Megiddo’s economic and social development. Mayor Bielski, as has Mayor Hofree, have strenuously tried to forge a strong working relationship with JFGA in order to bring the sister city committee under the umbrella of Federation programs. Both Mayors, with the hope of applying this “triangulation application”, have offered Ra’anana’s service and resources to help Yochneam too. The following letter written to then JFGA President Elliot Arnovitz reflects a situation that is current to this day.