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Capital: Beersheba 

Population: 630,000+ (2010)

Sister State formed: 2016     

The Negev Region is located in Southern Israel and encompasses numerous cities. The Negev houses Israel’s cybercommand and is a center of a lot of high-tech activity. The Negev’s largest university, Ben Gurion University, has world renowned academic departments including some that focus on water reuse, recycling, purification, desalination, etc. The Negev, because of its warm climate, is also a popular tourist destination with resorts, hikes, natural beauty, etc. Finally, the Negev is home to many ancient cities that date back to Abrahamic times and the time of the prophets.



The Maryland/Negev Region Sister State Committee is focused on mutually beneficial advancements in water security, and cultural and technological exchanges.


  • Holocaust Education Workshop
  • “Besa” Museum Exhibit
  • Maryland-Israel Water Conference

Maryland-Israel Partnership Hosts Professional Development Workshop and Opening Reception for
Remembrance and Rescue

 In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a partnership of Maryland and Israeli organizations have joined together to present “Remembrance and Rescue,” an exhibits and education program. The exhibits, featuring collections from Yad Vashem and on loan from the American Society for Yad Vashem and the Israeli humanitarian aid agency, IsraAID, are on display at the Bender JCC in Rockville, Maryland, from January 13 through February 23, 2020. 

Partner Organizations

  • The Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee
  • The Israeli-American Council 
  • The Embassy of Israel 
  • The Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington. 

The partners offer gratitude to the American Society for Yad Vashem and IsraAID, which have served as partners, as well as Spectrum Printing and Graphics of Rockville, which has produced the IsraAID exhibit panels.

Opening Reception

The reception, which takes place at 6:30 PM on January 23, 2020 at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, is the official opening for the program. Featured speakers include Albanian Ambassador Floreta Faber, Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Israel’s Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., Benjamin Krasna, and Marlene W. Yahalom, PhD, who is the Director of Education for the American Society for Yad Vashem.

At the Reception, in addition to the featured speakers, there will be Ambassadors, Deputy Heads of Missions, Counselors and other officials representing close to a dozen embassies, including: Albania, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Serbia, Poland, as well as international NGOs representing Guatemala, Turkey, Russia, China and South Africa. We are also honored to be hosting a multitude of officials from the Governments of the City of Gaithersburg, Montgomery County, the District of Columbia, the Maryland General Assembly, 7 State agencies of the State of Maryland, 5 federal agencies of the United States of America.

Professional Development Workshop

Importantly, a Professional Development Workshop takes place the day prior to the Reception on January 22nd. In October, the Maryland Superintendent of Schools’ made an announcement that was front page of the Washington Post. Dr. Salmon said, “We are going to boost Holocaust education in middle and high schools across the state.” Therefore, the timing of the Workshop dovetails perfectly with the objectives of the Maryland State Department of Education. As a consequence, the Maryland-Israel partnership has been able to assemble educators and officials from around the State to learn from the abovementioned Marlene W. Yahalom, PhD. Participants will take materials back to their classrooms for their students. In attendance will be the Maryland State Coordinator for Social Studies (K-12), as well as county administrators and faculty for public and private schools in Montgomery County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County, as well as ASL interpreters and the curriculum director and the social studies chair for the Maryland School for the Deaf. 

Teenage Programs

  • A separate evening reception program designed specifically for BBYO teenagers and their parents will take place at the Bender JCC on February 3rd. This event is being organized by the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee’s Student Chair, Ms. Kate Morgan, a 9th grader at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.
  • Eitanim of the Israeli-American Council will have groups visiting the exhibits on January 29.
  • Tzofim, the Israeli Scouts, will be visiting the exhibits on January 26.

About the Exhibits

BESA: A Code of Honor-Muslim Albanians Who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust

This exhibit, developed and curated by Yad Vashem, is about the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ – non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. It is comprised of portraits and text about Muslim families in Albania, who saved Jews during the Holocaust, converging two seemingly opposed worlds. The remarkable assistance afforded to Jews during this time was grounded in BESA, the code of honor which still exists today. This exhibit is on loan from the American Society for Yad Vashem.

IsraAID: Stories of Courage and Resilience

This exhibit features photographs and stories documenting rescue and relief efforts by Israel for world communities devastated by natural disasters. Photos/resources provided by IsraAID.

Community Impact 

According to Randy Morgan, Chair of the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee, the program was inspired by Maryland Governor Lawrence Hogan’s visit in 2016 to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to victims of the Holocaust. “As I understand,” says Morgan, “The Governor was so moved by his experience at Yad Vashem that he returned to the Memorial on his own unofficially before he returned home to Maryland.” 

While the Remembrance and Rescue Program was initiated by the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee, it would have been impossible to produce without the Committee’s committed partners, its generous sponsors, and a strong sense of community. According to Morgan, “We are grateful to have such a broad community of support for our program – a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-generational, non-partisan and international community coming together to remember the lessons and honor the victims of the Holocaust.”

Program Co-Chairs

Randall Morgan 

Orly Ben-Eliyahu

Josh Schonfeld

Professional Co-Chairs

Marina Gorman

Lisa Del Sesto

Event Committee

Andrew Berman

Katherine Jannotta

Mendy Nitsch


Israeli-American Council

Stuart and Ellen Lessans Family

Phyllis and Leonard Attman Foundation

Morgan Family Pencoyd Foundation

Suzanne and Joshua Schonfeld Family

American Society for Yad Vashem

Spectrum Printing and Graphics

Maryland-Israel Water Conference: Water Reuse & Security

In October 2018, the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee and the Maryland Department of the Environment co-hosted the Maryland-Israel Water Conference: Water Reuse and Security at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in College Park, Maryland. The Water Conference was an opportunity to exchange ideas and to learn of the current and upcoming technologies in water access and management. “It brought together Maryland’s water community, and it fostered a conversation among leading U.S. and Israeli minds on the subject of water as it pertains to Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and the National Capital area,” said Randall Morgan, chair of the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee. 

The event was organized by the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee and the Maryland Department of the Environment in collaboration with the University of Maryland’s CONSERVE Center and Gili Elkin of the Israel – US Water Initiative. The Conference featured the Initiative’s roundtable format, providing the opportunity to all attendees to introduce themselves and participate in the ongoing conversation.

During the conference, 130 leaders from Maryland utilities, State agencies, environmental services firms, the EPA, world-class research organizations, and international associations assembled to host Israeli innovators in the water sector. For example, Maryland utility executives and state officials met Israeli water innovators Ari Goldfarb of KANDO; Pini Huber of SIGA; Kobi Freedman of IDRRA; Ronen Barkan and Erik Arfalk from Fluence Corp; and representatives from Amiad Water Systems and other Israeli companies who were proposing technologies and solutions that would specifically enhance Maryland’s water reuse infrastructure and operations, as well as its water security. Israel is credited as one of the most advanced countries developing technologies related to water reuse and security. At the request of Maryland State Cabinet Secretaries of State, Natural Resources and the Environment, the Sister State Committee created and produced this professional conference to address Maryland’s needs in water reuse and security.

Other speakers included: Yifat Alon Perel, Minister of Economic & Trade Affairs, Embassy of Israel; Tracy Mehan, Executive Director, Government Affairs, AWWA; Pat Sinicropi, Executive Director, WateReuse; Debbie Newberry, Deputy Director, Water Security Division, EPA; Dr. Amy Sapkota, Director, CONSERVE; John Wobensmith, Maryland Secretary of State; Luis Borunda, MD Dep. Secretary of State; Hans Schmidt, Asst Sec, Maryland Dept of Agriculture; Mark Belton, Secretary of the MD Dept of Natural Resources; Roy McGrath, CEO of Maryland Environmental Service.


Over a dozen sponsors, including the Jewish National Fund, helped to bring the presenters from Israel to explain their cutting edge innovations in water technology. “It was highly successful and exceeded expectations,” Morgan declared. After two days of programming, including VIP panels, presentations, networking, and the Israel-US Water Initiative Roundtable, the Sister State Committee escorted the Israeli representatives on site visits at Maryland utilities. The visits yielded two pilot projects initiated at Maryland utilities employing Israeli technology.

Capping off the conference proceedings, the Israeli Embassy’s Trade & Economic Mission sponsored the reception in the The Leroy Merritt Center for the Art of Joseph Sheppard.


H. Randall Morgan, Jr.

Chairperson of the Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee


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