A delegation of Israeli local government officials is visiting Sandy Springs institutions and companies through Sept. 18 as a business and cultural exchange.

The mayors and other officials are from Israel’s Western Galilee Cluster, 12 local authorities united under a regional government. The Cluster is in a sister city program with Sandy Springs, whose elected officials visited the Israel cities last fall. Now, Sandy Springs is playing host in turn.

The delegation of visitors from the Western Galilee Cluster, Israel, joined by Sandy Springs City Councilmember Andy Bauman (far left), gathers around Dr. Paul Scheinberg, Emory Saint Joseph’s chief medical officer (center), during a Sept. 12 hospital tour. (Photo Grace Huseth)

“I am delighted to welcome my friends from the Western Galilee to Sandy Springs to return the hospitality demonstrated during our visit last fall to Israel,” said Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul in a press release. “In addition to the cultural and tourism possibilities, there is great potential within the business sector, and we are excited to assist in making those valuable connections.”

Under the sister city agreement, the Cluster and Sandy Springs exchange information about three sectors of their economies and cultures: medical technology, tourism and information technology and cyber security. During their trip, which began Sept. 11, the Israel have toured Pill Hill hospitals, met with representatives of such companies as AirWatch, and visited the Weber School and Heards Ferry Elementary. They also took a driving tour of the city and visited the construction site where City Springs, a public-private development including a new city hall and theater, is rising.

During a tour of Emory Saint Joseph’s cancer center, the delegation saw such technology as a Gamma Knife, a $3 million radiation machine used to treat brain cancer. Mayor Sivan Yechilei of Kfar Vradim said his city’s medical center has been requesting a Gamma Knife and would like to bring that technology to the area.

Moshe Davidovich, deputy mayor of Mateh Asher, Israel, tries a robotic surgery machine during the Sept. 12 Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital visit. (Photo Grace Huseth)

The hospital’s human touch also impressed the delegation. Nurse Ginger Parks explained the hospital’s patient-rounds process where the entire team treating the patient—doctors, nurses and related caregivers—visit the bedside daily for coordinated care.

“They practice what they preach,” Mayor Yechilei said. “Emory treats patients with love using an excellent bedside manner, which is something we could improve.”

As the delegation wraps up its visit, its publicly announced events include a stop at UPS corporate headquarters to discuss medical devices and logistics, and a Shabbat religious service at Congregation B’Nai Torah.

Delegation members include: Yechilei; Mayor Shlomo Bohbot of Maalot Tashiha; Mayor Shimon Gueta of Maale Yosef; Mayor Yoram Israeli and Deputy Mayor Moshe Davidovich of Mateh Asher; Yael Ron of the Western Galilee Cluster; and Yariv Hameiri, CEO of Treasures of the Galilee, a nonprofit tourism organization.

–Grace Huseth and John Ruch