You Had Me at Shalom
By Miriam Dant, JCRC President
“You had me at Shalom!” We heard Consul General Aviv Ezra say this more than once the week of July 23, 2019, during which time Indianapolis became the first ever “Pop Up Consulate” for the Consulate of Israel to the Midwest, as a way to express his fondness for Indiana and appreciation of our Jewish community.
Pop Up Consulate week began with a briefing for congressional staff and state officials concerning the Indiana-Israel relationship. That night, our community was treated to a “conversation” with Consul General Ezra that covered topics such as the role of the Consulate in helping to build and strengthen relationships between Indiana and Israel, how to get Israeli basketball and soccer teams to play our Pacers and Indy Eleven, insight about current events in the Middle East, and Israel’s unprecedented multiple elections.
The Consul General and his staff conducted several media interviews, met with local interfaith leaders, the Indianapolis International Airport, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis Fire Department, the University of Indianapolis, and the International Center about potential collaborations and opportunities. The week concluded with at the Indiana State Museum with a special screening of the Israeli film “Museum” about the unique Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
A highlight of the week was an event hosted by Consul General Ezra honoring Gov. Eric Holcomb and the State of Indiana. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, and Indiana National Guard’s Major General Courtney Carr attended and spoke fondly of their own trips to Israel. The fact that our highest state and city elected officials all made it a priority to attend this event is a true testament to the fact that they have not only a professional bond with Israel, but also a personal one. Mayor Hogsett even shared that Indianapolis hopes to soon formalize a sister city relationship with an Israeli city, which will make our connections even stronger and more long-lasting.
The bond between Indiana and Israel is mutually beneficial in a number of ways, some obvious and tangible and some not. For example, Indiana’s National Guard conducts annual search and rescue training missions with the Israel Home Front Command, alternating the location between Indiana and Israel. Our Indiana Economic Development Corporation and several members of our Jewish community have worked with the Consulate to bring Israeli companies to Indiana, resulting in new jobs and economic opportunities for Hoosiers. We both benefit from Israel’s leadership in cybertechnology, with the Cybertech Midwest Conference taking place in Indy during Pop Up Consulate week. We heard emotional comments from a congressional staffer who recently returned from Israel about how much she learned about Judaism, and we were pleased to see a freshman legislator from the southside of Indy join us at an event and share her thoughts on her family’s trip to Israel.
A description of the week’s events would not be complete without expressing gratitude to our amazing JCRC staff, and the staff of the Consulate. Events like these require a significant amount of behind-the-scenes planning and detailed work, allowing those of us watching it from the outside to think it was easy.
So yes, Consul General Ezra, “you had Indy at Shalom!” We are so grateful that you chose our community for your first Pop Up Consulate and we look forward to warmly welcoming you back here again soon.