Bridge Building Between Young Jewish- and Macedonian-American Professionals

 

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On Monday, June 2, American Jewish Committee (AJC) ACCESS DC and the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) joined together for a wonderful evening of bridge building.

The event was hosted at the United Macedonian Diaspora’s offices in downtown Washington, D.C., which provided a warm atmosphere for the occasion. The participants included approximately 15 young Macedonian-American professionals and 15 young Jewish-Americans professionals. After an hour of informal networking, the participants gathered together for an introduction and presentation by Metodija A. Koloski, President of the United Macedonian Diaspora. Metodija spoke eloquently about the mission and background of the United Macedonian Diaspora, Macedonia’s historic Jewish population, and Macedonia’s relationship with Israel. Ilana Ron Levey, Co-Chair of ACCESS DC, then introduced the participants to AJC and ACCESS, specifically discussing how ACCESS works to build bridges across racial, ethnic, and national lines.

After each participant introduced him or herself, the group had a wonderful conversation about the common policy and advocacy issues that concern both UMD and ACCESS, how to further engagement between the two groups, and shared interest in international travel.

Capital Taste, co-founded by Macedonian-American chef de cuisine Kiril Stavrev, Terence Michael Tomlin, Sr. and Mackenzie Kitburi, catered the evening. The dinner menu reflected the culture and heritage of both groups: participants feasted on Macedonian dishes including sarma (stuffed grape leaves), tavce gravce (white bean and smoked tomato salad), and kadaif (a sweet dessert made of shredded phyllo dough and walnuts) and Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes including hummus, baba ganoush, tabouleh, and falafel sliders. The menu also included a selection of traditional Macedonian wine from the Stobi winery.

“ACCESS DC was honored to be hosted by UMD for this event and we look forward to increased collaboration in the coming months,” said Gideon Culman, Co-Chair of ACCESS DC. “We are eager to continue learning about the Macedonian diaspora community and working together to advance U.S. immigration reform.”

“Macedonians and Jews have been intertwined throughout history, and both have fought to promote centuries-long dreams of free and independent homelands; Raphael Kamhi fought in the Macedonian independence movement in 1903, and in 1911, Dimitar Vlahov had worked with Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion to deepen the collaboration between both peoples and promote a Jewish state,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “We hope this event will be the first of many bridge-building events between our communities as we work to address issues of mutual concern.”