by Patrick Maguire

A delegation of Jewish leaders from across the UK enjoyed an “inspiring” interfaith trip to Israel last week – and have high hopes for the future of the country’s shared society.

Over twenty representatives from the British Jewish community toured Wadi Ara, in Israel’s predominantly Muslim ‘Little Triangle’ region, and met with those leading efforts to improve Jewish-Arab relations.

The four-day trip saw delegates – led by UJIA chief executive Michael Wegier and UK Task Force director Toni Rickenback – visit a range of cultural, educational, charitable and industrial projects aiming to encourage peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in and around Haifa.

The Office of the Chief Rabbi said the group’s efforts would help “engineer positive change… and create a better society for all Israeli citizens”

Ari Jesner and Michael Wegier meet a student at the Hand in Hand – Gesher over the Wadi school

The group met with academics and senior officials from the Israeli government and public sector – including Ministry of Justice director-general Emi Palmor, civil service equal opportunities czar Mariam Kabaha, and Arab-Jewish relations expert Professor Sammy Smooha.

The study visit concluded with lunch at the residence of British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey, who praised the enthusiasm and interest of the participants.

Reflecting on its success, Toni Rickenback paid tribute to the “inspiring” work of Arabs and Jews striving to “create a more equal and inclusive Israeli society”.

He said: “We saw on this trip some of the most novel and creative solutions to the educational, cultural, and economic challenges Israeli society is facing.

“I am already looking forward to next year’s trip.”