Photo: Coastline and High-rise Building in Netanya, Israel

Florida’s Rivera Meets the Israeli Rivera

By Vice Mayor Isaac Aelion

(September 15, 2014) – Recently, Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar of Netanya, Israel, hosted a delegation from the City of Sunny Isles Beach, headed by Mayor Norman Edelcup. The purpose of the visit was to share methods that worked well for each city in promoting art, culture and education to their respective residents.

Netanya, which in Hebrew means “ gift of God “, is a City in the north-central part of Israel between Haifa and Tel Aviv. It started as a settlement back in 1929, and in 1948, when the State of Israel was established, Netanya became the first designated City of the New State of Israel and at that time had 9,000 residents. Today, Netanya flourishes with a population of well over 200,000.

Even though Netanya is ten times the population of Sunny Isles Beach, in land and density, the similarities between the two Cities are striking. Both have beautiful beaches on the coast, a similar cultural diversity, and aspirations to enhance culture, economic and educational growth for their residents.

This is the second time Mayor Edelcup and Mayor Feirberg, or brother and sister as they like to call each other, met in Netanya. The first time was back in July 2007 when the Sister City union was formed. Both Mayors have served their respective cities for over a decade, successfully promoting infrastructure growth in each city while maintaining a fiscally conservative approach to financing those improvements.

During their stay in Netanya, the Sunny Isles Beach Delegation had the opportunity to exchange ideas on programs which would benefit both cities. At the center of the discussions were the Netanya Foundation and the recently formed City of Sunny Isles Beach Foundation. Both foundations have similar mission statements to raise funds from the private sector to promote city-sponsored cultural, social, and educational programs.

The strong union between these two Sister Cities makes perfect sense if one looks at the attributes of each city. Both Netanya and Sunny Isles Beach are next to beautiful waters and are known for upscale development. Both cities have lovely parks adorned with art, rich cultural diversity, and most interestingly, both are named the “Riviera” of their respective states.