Virtual Programming Strengthens Bond Between Two Communities

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily lives with adjustments in our routines here at home as well as in Israel and around the world, it is comforting to know that amid the uncertainty, there are still moments of strength and hope that highlight the resilience we share with our partner cities.

Let’s Talk, a new virtual program of The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership (BAP), was launched to bring our communities together in the spirit of fun, friendship and family to help bridge the geographic and social distance between us.

“After having a few Zoom meetings, I realized this could be a great social tool for our two communities,” says Yehuda Halfon, Co-Chair of the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership in Ashkelon. “Self-isolation can leave us feeling alone and disconnected, and Let’s Talk provides an opportunity to maintain the connections between us in spite of the challenging reality we now find ourselves in.”

Each Thursday at 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, community members from both cities met virtually to check in with each other and discuss a series of relevant topics including personal stories of survival around Yom HaShoah (Holocaust remembrance day in Israel), the impact the coronavirus has had on Odessa, Baltimore’s partner city, and the current status of the coronavirus here in Baltimore.

“I participated each week so that I could stay connected with my fellow friends and strengthen the partnership,” shares Shari Malinow, BAP Evaluations Chair. “But I found that in addition to the comradery, I learned so much. We listened to a young gentleman who went to school in Baltimore and is now in the IDF as a lone soldier. We also heard from the head of the coronavirus response team in Ashkelon who shared the necessary steps that they are taking to ensure that people were staying inside.”

The program’s success can be attributed to building relationships and providing a sense of human connection and inspiring moments.

“A virtual program connects us in ways that we really need right now,” explains Harriette Wienner, BAP Funding Chair. “It is so interesting to see how our friends in Israel are faring through this crisis. Seeing their faces and hearing their voices brings us together in a more normal, natural way.”

The final session of Let’s Talk will be led by Huppit Bartov Miller, a local home chef, food blogger, and founder of on Sunday, May 24 at 12:00 p.m. EST. Join us for a community Shavuot cooking workshop with Baltimore and Ashkelon.

To register for the Zoom meeting click here. A list of ingredients is provided below.

To learn more about BAP, “like” or “follow” the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership Facebook page.


For the Labneh:

  • 3 cups (about 700 gr.) of Plain Yogurt (Huppit’s favorite is Greek yogurt)
  • 1 – 1 & 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • * cheese cloth
  • For playing:
  • Olive oil
  • Za’atar
  • Sumac

For the Burekas:

  • 1.1 lb./500 gr. Puff pastry dough
  • 14oz./400 gr. Israeli Feta Cheese
  • 8 oz./225 gr. Goat cheese
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Labneh
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 & 1/2 cup chopped Israeli green olives


  • Kadaif shredded pastry dough
  • Melted butter

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