Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Sacramento-Bethlehem Sister City Relationship

[Blog readers:  If you live or work in Sacramento and like this, please send a letter to the mayor and city council members by November 7!  Following this letter is a fact sheet about Sister City relationships.]

Oct. 28, 2009

Hon. Kevin Johnson via

Re: Support for Sister City—Sacramento and Bethlehem

Dear Mayor Johnson:

As a Sacramento resident and local clergyperson, I am writing to provide my encouragement and thanks to your efforts and those of the City Council to recognize the City of Sacramento and the City of Bethlehem as Sister Cities.

A couple in the congregation I serve are active participants in the relationship with San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, and I’ve enjoyed learning about the relationship.  Another  member of the congregation has introduced me to community members working on the Bethlehem project.  My congregation and I support any endeavor that helps to promote cultural understanding between communities.

As one who has loved international travel and exchanges of culture and hospitality since college days, I am excited about the prospect of linking with such a historically and culturally significant city – not to mention one of the most famous place names in Biblical geography and literature!

I look forward to meeting Mayor Batarseh next week in Sacramento and look forward to a new learning partnership between my own city of Sacramento and the City of Bethlehem.  Please be in touch if you have any questions, and best wishes.


[my name and title]

cc to


Sacramento to Bethlehem Sister City Initiative



In 1956 President Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people citizen diplomacy initiative — “letting people themselves give expression of their common desire for friendship, goodwill and cooperation.” This evolved into a worldwide program of officially approved, long-term partnerships between two communities in two countries.


Also referred to as twinning, friendship cities and partner cities, the Sister Cities relationship can be initiated by the mayors or by groups and individuals in the community. And Sister City activities can include municipal, business, professional, educational and cultural exchanges and citizen volunteer participation. It’s everything from official city-to-city delegations, to a young person in Sacramento chatting electronically with another young person in Bethlehem.


The Sacramento to Bethlehem Sister City Initiative is a group of Sacramento area residents whose goal is to make Sacramento and Bethlehem official Sister Cities. The group communicated this goal in writing to Bethlehem’s mayor and city council in March 2008 via a letter hand-delivered by a Sister Cities International delegation visiting the region. Bethlehem’s mayor, Dr. Victor Batarseh, replied affirmatively on his behalf and that of the Bethlehem City Council in a 2008 letter to then-Mayor Heather Fargo, which he reiterated in a 2009 letter to Mayor Kevin Johnson.



The Sacramento to Bethlehem Sister City Initiative is demonstrating the feasibility of a formal Sister City bond between Sacramento and Bethlehem by accomplishing exchange projects and establishing relationships between Bethlehem and Sacramento residents and groups.


In July, the group met with Mayor Johnson to deliver the letters from Mayor Batarseh, to acquaint him with their work and to enlist his support to formalize the relationship between the two cities. The group is conducting similar visits with city council members. A city council member has offered to sponsor the resolution to make Sacramento and Bethlehem Sister Cities and after the Sacramento City Council votes affirmatively, the two mayors will sign a Sister City agreement.



Sacramento has an almost fifty-year Sister City history. In 1961, it became Sister Cities with Pasay/Manila, Phillippines. And in 2006, it officially became Sister Cities with San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua. And Sacramento presently has six other Sister Cities: Matsuyama, Japan (1988); Jinan, China (1984); Hamilton, New Zealand (1988); Liestal, Switzerland (1989); Chisnau, Moldova (1989); and Yongsan-gu, Korea (1997). Bethlehem would be Sacramento’s first Middle Eastern Sister City.


The city provides staff support and a meeting site to the Sister Cities Council of Sacramento, a group of citizen volunteers whose interest and energy keep Sacramento’s Sister City relationships active. Notes of the group’s bi-monthly meetings are made available to the mayor and the city council and annually the group provides a progress report to the City Council. Former-mayor Anne Rudin is the Honorary Chair. Members of the Sacramento to Bethlehem Sister City Initiative have been participating in Sister Cities Council of Sacramento meetings since October 2007.



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