During her visit to Israel, Assemblywoman Schimel met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at his office for an hour long meeting. The Prime Minister discussed the recent presidential elections and the selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. He concluded the meeting by saying, "What is good for America, is good for Israel."
Assemblywoman Schimel and her Assembly colleagues also spoke with the United States Ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, about the complex issues surrounding the territories held by Israel. This meeting was followed by stopping at an observation point overlooking the Gaza Strip. Then the group made a visit to Sderot and the Sha&’ar Ha’Negev region (across from Gaza) to learn about life under constant threat from Kassam rockets. Despite how the media portrays the security of Israel and in light of recent events, I felt safe and secure during my visit. I plan to return to Israel in the near future.
Reflecting upon her visit to the holy land, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel said, "with just four and a half days in one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries, it was an intense and poignant experience. It was especially meaningful spending the time with both my Jewish and non-Jewish Assembly colleagues enjoying and learning together about how much history we all share in the Promised Land. I am so grateful to Speaker Silver and the JCRC for making this trip possible."
Assemblywoman Schimel also met with a representative from the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) to discuss the various strategies and trauma responses the community has to cope with living in the region. The Assemblywoman, a former health care professional, especially was moved by seeing the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and learning about the preparedness for emergency situations.
Perhaps her busiest day was a trip through history, heading underneath the Old City of Jerusalem’s maze of buildings to the Western Wall Tunnel. Built 2000 years ago by Herod the Great to support the massive compound where the Temple once stood. The Excavated tunnel is a phenomenal site. The Western Wall is the most revered holy site in Judaism.
"I had to spend quite some time placing notes in the wall written by family members and friends. I too had a special message to place in the sacred wall," said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel.
Ms. Schimel is proud of the "match" she is forging between the Nassau County Health Administration and the Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center to pursue the connection between Jerusalem and New York on issues of cultural competence and health disparities.
According to the Assemblywoman, "I am working with Art Gianelli, CEO of the Nassau Health Care Corporation, to make this professional association a reality. We are both excited about it."