Atlanta and Israel have been connected by more than just Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The city and small nation have had mutual interest in each other for quite some time. Atlanta and Israel have had economic, developmental, and social ties for many years. This all became official as Atlanta and the city of Ra’anana, Israel became sister cities in the year 2000.
After the Second World War, the concept of town twinning or sister cities was conceived to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures as an act of peace and reconciliation. Sister cities form an agreement to promote cultural and commercial ties, as well as to encourage trade and tourism.
The city of Atlanta has 17 sister cities. Ra’anana is one of our most recent sister cities, but our connection is strong and deep. Starting in 1998 the partnership started out of a student-exchange program between two high schools in each city. This relationship has grown from a nurtured friendship to include economic development, and facilitate social, cultural, educational, and athletic exchanges. The two cities even collaborate in attending numerous events sponsored by the Atlanta Jewish Community including the Israel Independence Day celebration, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and Kosher Barbecue Event.
Ra’anana is known locally as “Little America” because many people who settled there were from New York. It has a litany of tech companies including Emblaze, HP, NICE Systems, SAP, Texas Instruments and Microsoft’s head office of Israel. Ra’anana loves sports. Like the rest of Israel, it has successful soccer and basketball teams. However, with its large American expatriate population, its baseball team the Ra’anana Express is a popular team competing in the fast-developing Israeli Baseball League.
The JCC Maccabi Games of Atlanta is also participating with a sister city, located less than 50 miles north of Ra’anana, called Yokneam-Megido. Fifteen athletes will be playing with Team Atlanta, helping us as we work our way to the medal stand. We are very excited to welcome the Yokneam-Megido athletes to Team Atlanta, who represent the next step of international cooperation, brotherhood, and one of our most important Midot Values, Amiut Yehudit, Jewish Peoplehood. Let’s give them a taste of our southern hospitality!