New York state native Eli Groner, a resident of Gush Etzion and now Israel’s Economic Minister in the United State, touted American-Israeli economic relationships at last week's American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Groner, married with five children and a resident of the community of Elazar, grew up in upstate New York, where there were eight Jews in a town of 3,000 people. He became an "oleh" (immigrant) when he left the United States for Israel more than 25 years ago. He lives in the Gush Etzion community of Elazar, south of Jerusalem.
When he was appointed to his new position three months ago, he consulted with his former teacher, Rabbi Eli Sadan, on his concern of risking the quality of his children’s education. The rabbi encouraged him to take the position and learn Torah with his son twice a week in order to get across the message of the importance of religious education.
“Everywhere I go, I represent my family, religious Zionism and my people,” Groner says.
"I came to work and promote Israel's interests in terms of finances and strengthen the State of Israel,” he adds.
As for missing home, he notes that in the three months he has been in the United States, three residents of Elazar have already visited him.
In order to qualify for the position, he had to give up his American citizenship. “I had to go to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv where I submitted a letter in which I explain in detail why I am giving up citizenship,” he reveals. “I am proud to be an American and maybe one day I will get back my citizenship.”
Groner says that Israel has survived the worldwide economic crisis and has continued to invest in its infrastructure.
"The lesson the U.S. can learn from Israel are maintaining the foundation of an atmosphere of entrepreneurship. Israel has creativity and not just in high tech," according to Groner.