Israeli Consulate Reopens After Month-Long Strike

The Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region announced that the Israeli diplomats’ strike, part of a year-long labor dispute in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came to an end. Therefore all Israeli missions over the world, and their headquarters in Jerusalem, reopened Thursday.

Starting March 4, Israel’s consulates around the world did not provide any services, except for life-threatening situations and burials in Israel. On March 23, the Ministry’s workers declared a general strike.

“We regret that we had to use this extreme measure, but after a year of work dispute, mediation and negotiations that were dragged out by officials of the Ministry of Finance, this was our last resort that proved itself,” the Consulate said in a statement.

The director of wages department in the Ministry of Finance, Kobi Amsalem, said that the agreement “will strengthen foreign services and help Israel’s emissaries work for a long time in service of Israeli diplomacy.”

Israeli Consulate Workers Strike as Part of Ministry Labor Dispute

The Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia announced that it will not provide consular services until further notice, except for life threatening situations and burials in Israel, as part of a labor dispute in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of Tuesday, March 4, Israeli diplomats worldwide have renewed their work sanctions due to the Finance Ministry’s refusal to resolve the dispute.

Under these sanctions, Israel’s diplomats will no longer engage with foreign representatives, take care of official visits of any kind (either in Israel or overseas), issue visas or provide any consular services.

Phila. Israel Consulate Prepares Book of Condolences to PM Sharon

The Consulate of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region announced today that a book of condolences to the former prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, will be opened for signature at its premises (1880 JFK Boulevard, Suite 1818, Philadelphia) from January 13-16, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Visits shall be notified in advance to [email protected] or to phone number 267-479-5803.

Sharon was born in 1928 in Kfar Malal. He served in the IDF for more than 25 years, retiring with the rank of major general.

He participated in the 1967 Six Day War as a commander of an armored division. In 1969 he was appointed head of the IDF Southern Command.

Sharon resigned from the army in 1973, but was recalled to active military service in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War to command an armored division. He led the crossing of the Suez Canal which brought about victory in the war and eventual peace with Egypt.

In 1981 Sharon was appointed defense minister, serving in this post during the Lebanon War, which brought about the destruction of the PLO terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon.

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In 1998 Sharon was appointed foreign minister and headed the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

On February 6, 2001, Sharon was elected prime minister. In June 2004, the government approved the Disengagement Plan from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, which was implemented the following year, in order to create the opportunity for peace.

On January 4, 2006, after forming a new party, Kadima, in anticipation of elections to the 17th Knesset, Sharon suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Sharon never regained consciousness and passed away eight years later, on January 11th, 2014.

He was widowed and is survived by two sons, Omri and Gilad.

Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen.

Israeli Consulate to Remain in Philadelphia

Mayor Michael A. Nutter received a letter from Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, informing him that Israel’s Consulate General in Philadelphia will remain open.  

It had been reported previously that a decision to close the Consulate General was under consideration. The letter was personally delivered to Mayor Nutter by Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, at a board meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

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Mayor Nutter said:

Today’s announcement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs is tremendously exciting for the City of Philadelphia, our Jewish community, and the Consulate General. I want to thank Minister Liberman for his decision.

The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia plays a tremendously important role in supporting our Jewish community and the strong business relationships that exist between Israel and Philadelphia.  

Preserving the consulate in Philadelphia was a true team effort involving the Consulate General, the Jewish Federation, Philadelphia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, American Jewish Committee and elected officials at all levels of government. I would like to thank everyone involved.  

Congratulations to Consul General Yaron Sideman and the Jewish community in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

Last month Mayor Nutter traveled to Israel with a delegation of community and business leaders to strengthen ties between the Philadelphia region and the State of Israel. The delegation stayed in Philadelphia’s Sister City of Tel Aviv-Yafo and was hosted by Mayor Ron Huldai.

The potential closure of the consulate was high on the Mayor’s agenda, and he raised concerns about the possibility with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Peres, U.S. Ambassador Shapiro, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mayor Huldai of Tel Aviv and Mayor Birkat of Jerusalem.  

A wide range of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania elected officials also expressed similar concerns to the Israeli government about the impact of the closure of the consulate.

In his letter to Mayor Nutter, Minister Liberman highlighted the success of the Mayor’s trade mission, the strength of the relationship between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv, and the values shared between the Philadelphia region and the State of Israel.

Consul General Yaron Sideman said:

I laud the tireless efforts made by Mayor Nutter and so many others to keep the Consulate open, efforts that bore fruit in the form of this exciting news.

It is now up to all of us to roll up our sleeves and continue with the task of working together to strengthen the ties between Israel and Philadelphia. The many partnerships that have emerged as a result of the recent the Mayor led trip to Israel are a perfect starting point.

Josh Shapiro’s Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia open. Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it is considering closing the consulate.

In a letter dated November 26, 2013, Shapiro wrote that the consulate “is critical to the continuance of the longstanding relationship between the people of Israel and our region.” Shapiro went on to say that the consulate “is of vital importance to our respective nations’ common interests and its continued operation will serve to enhance the mutually beneficial economic and business connection between Israel and our region in Southeastern Pennsylvania.”

In the letter, Shapiro references Netanyahu’s upbringing in Montgomery County during which the future Prime Minister graduated from Cheltenham High School. “The Greater Philadelphia region is an economic hub for Israel, processing 25 percent of Israel’s nearly $20 billion in exports to the United States each year,” Shapiro wrote, adding that the presence of the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia is integral in that process.

Shapiro is active is many Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the area. He has traveled to Israel six times, and has met Netanyahu twice.

Rethinking Plans to Close Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia

Among the wonderful aspects of our Jewish community in Philadelphia is the close relationship we have with the State of Israel. We do not take that relationship for granted. It comes as the product of hard work, constant communication and, perhaps most importantly, personal contact. The close personal contact we have with Israel in Philadelphia comes from the warm relationship which we have with the Israel Consulate and, specifically, the Consul General.

I was saddened to receive the news that the government in Israel is considering closing our Consulate. Understanding the financial burdens which weigh on the State of Israel, I am sympathetic to the need to cut costs in many programs.  At the same time, the work of the Consul General and the Consulate creates the close and warm bond which we feel toward Israel, ultimately impacting positively on Israel’s economy through our support. We benefit from the Consul and his office through his personal presence at so many of our synagogues and Jewish Institutions. He provides a friendly and knowledgeable voice for the State when he speaks, contributing strong support for Israel when she is attacked, a voice of reason, warmth and encouragement for those of us who work to support Israel. [Read more…]

Israeli Master’s Soccer Team: An Example of Diversity in Middle East

— by Michelle Effron Miller

The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia hosted the Israeli National Master’s Team (Nivcheret Yisrael Vatikim) this week. The soccer players began a few years ago as an unofficial group of former professional players who simply wanted to keep active in the sport. Now they travel the world representing Israel and its diversity. The Israelis play as one although they are members of several different religions: Christian, Druze, Muslim and Jewish.

Beginning the U.S. tour in Philadelphia (Tel Aviv’s sister city), last Sunday they challenged the West Chester Predators’Over-30 Men’s Travel Team. Although the Israelis fought a hard game, they lost 2-1. Pictured here, the Israelis are in white and blue uniforms, the Predators are in black.  

Michelle Effron Miller is the Director of Media and Governmental Affairs for the Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia. For information contact her at [email protected]

Photo Credit: Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia.

Israel Consulate Announces Philadelphia Yom Ha’zikaron Ceremony

The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia announces its Yom Ha’zikaron (Memorial Day) Ceremony for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. On Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 7:30 p.m., the event will be held at the beautiful and historic Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St., in Philadelphia.

More after the jump.
This year, the ceremony will honor all of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, with special emphasizes placed on local Jewish heroes.

“We are so incredibly honored to present this ceremony with the community, all of the bereaved families and with the families of Rita Susan Levine (z”l), David Solomonov (z”l) and Michael Levin (z”l),” said Philadelphia’s Consul General Daniel Kutner. “Along with prayers and musical selections, a film is being created to honor our local heroes, just for this event.”

Joan Levine Band lost her sister, Rita Levine (z”l), in a terror attack in July 1989, making her the first American to lose her life during the Intifada.

Michael Solomonov, owner of Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia, lost his brother, David Solomonov (z”l), in war.

Harriet and Mark Levin, lost their son, Michael Levin (z”l), during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Film creator Sally Mitlas of Mitlas Productions, LLC in Jenkintown, Pa., said the title of the film, “A Green Kippah,” is filled with symbolism and points to the color of a kippah worn in battle.

Mitlas, who is working tirelessly on the project, also said that the film focuses on the power of symbols.

“At the end of the film, Harriet Levin is holding her only son’s green kippah which he wore into battle. She looks at a picture of the three tzanchanim (paratroopers from the iconic 1967 Kotel picture by David Rubinger). We then dissolve into the Levin family meeting those same three soldiers – some 40 years later – and presenting them with Michael’s kippah. The soldiers in the picture were an inspiration to Michael.”

She said, “[The film] reminds us that when Israel loses a son or a daughter, it must be felt by every Jew around the world – not just by those living on Israeli soil.”

There are 44 local families who have lost family members to war or terrorism. Each year, the State of Israel and the Jewish people remember and mourn on Yom Ha’zikaron.

This ceremony is presented to the community by the Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.

Please bring a PHOTO ID with you to the ceremony.

For more information on the Yom Ha’zikaron event, please call 215.977.7600, ext. 511, email [email protected] or visit

To reach Michelle Effron Miller, Director of Media & Governmental Affairs at the Consulate, please write to [email protected]