We have so much to celebrate! Over the past 20 years there have been hundreds of connections made between Chicago-Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir. Read More
JUF’s Partnership Together (or as it’s sometimes abbreviated P2G) is a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel (a major JUF beneficiary and overseas partner) that links communities in the Diaspora with communities in Israel, mainly in Israel’s periphery of the Negev and Galil. Chicago has been partnered with Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir, which is located in Israel’s northern Negev, for the last 21 years. Through this partnership over $30 million of funding from JUF’s annual campaign has been allocated to projects that promote the region’s development, improve the quality of life for its residents and connects them with Chicago Jewry through “people to people” programs. This year $900,000 will be allocated to the region through JUF’s Partnership Together. Below are the programs that received an allocation in FY17.
Budo for Peace Association – Dojo Kiryat Gat Absorption Center
Budo for Peace was founded in 2004 and uses traditional martial
arts as a platform for social change and education. The group meets twice a week for 1.5 hours
with the youth (9-18) at the Shoshanna Absorption Center in Kiryat Gat. This program instills confidence, promotes
appropriate behavior, patience and respect.
Further this project is designed to develop young leaders and role models,
encourage gender equality and instill civic responsibility.
Nirim in the Neighborhood
Nirim in the Neighborhood reaches out to 14-19 year old youth at extreme risk to work with them one-on-one. Nirim works directly with the teens and with social services to provide connection and support. A Nirim club house is also open to any teen every day, except Shabbat.
Enav – Taking Responsibility
Taking responsibility encourages at-risk teenagers to be involved in their community as part of their therapeutic process. There are three stages to the program. The first is volunteering at a program in the city of Kiryat Gat (Hinneni community garden or Sahi) which will teach value in giving and strengthen their self-esteem. The second stage is learning safe driving and the third stage is practicing the safe driving with the help of a driving “tutor”. All teens want to learn to drive and feel independent.
Sahi – Special Grace Unit
win-win program, the Sahi project is a social contribution project for
teenagers 13-21 in which “at risk” teenagers, with histories of violence and
vandalism, contribute to their community by delivering weekly food packages to
needy area families. Through this program school dropout is reduced, the number
of youth involved in teenage vandalism is decreased, and the number of teens
entering the IDF is increased. This
year’s allocation to Sahi is directed to girls within Sahi and developing
special programming for this cohort.
Maccabi Kiryat Gat-Hoops for Kids
basketball players volunteer as basketball coaches for 15-20 at-risk youth from
municipal after school programs and local nonprofits. A good program all
around: the teens, in addition to have structured afternoon programming, are
able to learn from professional basketball players. The players, who play for Maccabi Kiryat Gat
but typically do not live in the area, are able to connect and give back to the
community they represent on the basketball court. The team builds strong fan base and goodwill
in the community. 150 teens participate
in this program.
Sheltered Summer Camps – Shafir Regional Council
During the month of August a summer camp for 100 children, aged 6-10, whose families are participating in Department of Welfare programs. Camp provides programming and structure that the children would otherwise not have.
Shafir Community Center – Connected to Youth
There are seven centers in Shafir where at-risk youth gather to
participate in social events, academic tutoring, anti-violence activities and
more. The youth leaders in charge have been trained to work with the
ultra-Orthodox youth that make up the Shafir community.
Lachish Community Center – Comprehensive Program for the Prevention and Treatment of At Risk Behaviors
At-risk teens from the Lachish region are identified to
participate in activities and counseling programs in an effort to guide them
towards a productive and fulfilling life.
Ramon Foundation– Aviators Club
a two-year leadership program for 20 children in elementary school. A squadron from the Israeli Air Force adopts
a school in the periphery and then accompanies the children, alongside
professional instructors, from the Ramon Foundation through different
activities over the two years.
Tor Hamidbar– Developing Social-Business Ventures
This program provides residents aged 18-35 of Kiryat Gat, Lachish and Shafir with new employment opportunities and alternative social services. This encourages current residents to remain in the area and helps the local economy to grow.
Orot Hakirya and Hinneni– Kiryat Gat Social Cooperative
organizations will work together to start a food co-op, which will reduce
prices for local shoppers. In addition there will be a physical space in the
back of the co-op for community activities. Each member (or family) of the
co-op will receive a 15% discount in return for working 2 hours a month in the
co-op or in the community room.
Maslan – Let’s Talk About It
is the Negev’s sexual assault and domestic violence support center. “Let’s Talk About It” is an educational
project to end violence and sexual violence in Israeli society using
psycho-educational workshops for educators, teens and children in both formal
and informal education settings.
Yachdav – Annual Enriched Recreation Outing
An added program for the participants, with developmental disabilities, in an occupational training program to have a day of fun and respite. The program will meet five times over the course of the year for trips, some as short as one day, to the Northern area of Israel, the Carmel area, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem and within the Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir region. The program is aimed at 37 factory workers with disabilities, 10 assisted occupational workers, volunteers and staff.
ELEM – Working with Ultra-Orthodox Youth at Risk
Elem is a national organization in
Israel that initiates, develops and operates a variety of programs for
prevention, outreach and treatment for youth.
The demographic that ELEM helps can range from teens with standard
issues that come with adolescence to homeless youth and adolescent
prostitutes. In Kiryat Gat, where the
ultra-Orthodox population is one-fifth of the city’s general population and
growing, there is a special need for the teens in that population who need
culturally sensitive programs. ELEM
identifies and works with 30 ultra-Orthodox teens who are in distress.
Birthday Angels - Youth Angels Program
Birthday Angels is a non-profit
founded in 2005 in Israel to promote self-esteem, a sense of belonging and
social responsibility among socio-economic, at-risk Israeli youth through
service learning programs and educational birthday parties. The Teen Angels program trains at-risk teens
to facilitate birthday parties in their own communities using Birthday Angels
party kits. During an eight session
training course the teens learn presentation skills, how to manage time, how to
facilitate a group and handle problem children.
By providing birthday parties for disadvantaged children an
emotional need, which can be just as important as material needs to children,
is met and the teen doing the facilitating learns skills and serves a purpose
in the community.
Hinneni – Families Generating Change
Working in two specific
neighborhoods in Kiryat Gat, with residents from, or descendent of, Ethiopia
and the Caucuses, a network of parents and children to develop social
involvement. A grassroots program that includes
10 year-cycle events (150 participants), weekly events for the entire family
(50 participants), house calls (50 families per year) and twice a week
activities for children(70 children in 3 groups).
Hinneni – The Minute Entrepreneurship Project
This project is a social start-up
which supplies members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community with employment in
areas that they have traditional knowledge and experience. 90 community elders are participating in
different areas of this program.
Be-Atzmi – Turning Point for Haredi Families
two pilot locations in Israel this program works with 45 couples in Kiryat Gat
to integrate both the men and women into the workforce. The program also provides separate workshops
and individual coaching to help Haredi couples understand and manage their
finances. The goal is to break the cycle
of poverty for Haredi families.
Edith Folk Community Center – Media Camp for Youth and Youth with Special Needs
During the school year, from 2:00
through late evening, the center provides a place for teens aged 15-17 and in 9th-12th
grade, from disadvantaged backgrounds educational and social enrichment. The participants receive help with homework,
social games, and activity groups at no cost to them (music, sports or art).
A national program that helps to bring Israeli society together by connecting different NGOs within communities. This both creates natural connections and improves efficiencies. One example is between an NGO that works with Ethiopian-Israeli Youth and another that works with older Ethiopian-Israelis. This is the second year of the program in Kiryat Gat. It was so well received the first year that this year the allocation was doubled to increase projects.
Lachish Regional Council – For the Gold
program creates volunteer partnerships for residents of Lachish with elderly
residents who are considered at-risk due to their health, cognitive or mental
decline. All suffer from social
loneliness. There are 600 elderly people
in Lachish and 300 are considered at-risk.
The volunteers are any council resident which covers a wide range of
ages and professions.
Neve Hanna – Path to Peace
The Neve Hanna children’s home in
Kiryat Gat was founded in 1974. It
includes a children’s home, that is currently home to 80 children aged 6-18 who
have been removed from their homes by social services or court orders, a daycare
center attended by 45 children, after school programs, therapeutic and social
treatments, leisure and enrichment activities, a cultural center, library,
synagogue, petting zoo, bakery, games and other facilities open to children
from the area. The “Path to Peace”
program began in 2004 and currently serves 14 Jewish and Bedouin-Muslim
children aged 8-14 from Kiryat Gat and Rahat.
The program promotes coexistence with programming in both Hebrew and
Arabic, meals together and explorations of each other’s culture, religion and
The Community Center Network of Kiryat Gat – Culture for Children at Risk
The Community Center in Kiryat Gat exposes children, aged 5-9, from disadvantaged families to four theater performances throughout the year. The idea being that appreciation for art is acquired through exposure and is beneficial at a young age. Children would attend the theater productions with their parents. A total of 200 participants, children and adults, participate in the program.
Krembo Wings – Youth with Special Needs
Named after a favorite seasonal candy treat in Israel that is so
delicate each one needs to be wrapped by hand Krembo Wings is national youth
movement in Israel for children with mild to severe special needs. Each child
is given individual care and given “wings” to experience life. Krembo Wings branches meet weekly after
school and bring together children, aged 7-21, with special needs and match them
with two able-bodies and specially trained peers each, aged 13-18. This allows
each child to fully participate in all of the activities. Activities can include group games, songs,
drama and arts and crafts. In addition
to the counselors who work directly with the Krembo Wings participants, there
are volunteer branch managers, a volunteer guidance team responsible for
creating and implementing the weekly activities, a special needs coordinator
and a supervising adult (a university student or national service volunteer). Krembo Wings provides transportation to and
from each session for each participant and a qualified nursing care worker is
always present. For this year there is a
new branch consisting of 8-10 pre-army volunteers from around Israel who will live and volunteer in Kiryat Gat. The
branch in Kiryat Gat currently has 27 members and 60 youth counselors.
The Yaacov Herzog Center – Taking the Lead
A well respected Orthodox, but
pluralistic, institution offers the Taking the Lead program for 120 religious
and secular 10th graders to learn from each other and promote
tolerance. The program meets seven times
between November and March and focuses on dialogue, religious study, volunteer
activities and leadership development.
World ORT Kadima Mada– YOU-niversity Centers for Excellence
Established in 2012 the center
offers a wide range of science and technology enrichment classes for local
children and teens. Course topics
include outer space, applied physics, CSI forensics, robotics, architecture and
design and more. Last year over 350
children from grades 1-9 participated in these programs.
Israel Children’s Zone
The Israel Children’s Zone is the flagship educational intervention program developed by Israeli education experts in cooperation with JUF’s team in Israel. It incorporates existing national programs, Revadim, Youth Futures and Etgarim which provide a variety of interventions based on the needs of the students. ICZ is currently available in part in all 17 schools in the Region.
Revadim is a school reform plan that assesses student difficulties and offers tailored solutions looking at both academic need as social support and family involvement.
Interventions for those students include: tutoring and counseling and may also include music, art and animal therapy.
Youth Futures, and intensive intervention, uses young-adult “mentors” working full time to build strong relationships with at-risk children and their families. Each mentor develops a personalized plan for each student and works with them and their families throughout the year. YF is in its 7th year of operation in Kiryat Gat. JUF and local Chicago donors also supports YF programs in Tiberias and Sderot.
Etagrim works with students with special needs through outdoor training and adventure therapy. Established by a group of IDF veterans with disabilities and rehabilitation experts
Etagrim works with students with impaired senses,
developmental disabilities, autism and also victims of trauma, terror and youth
Kefiada is an English-speaking day
camp for 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Kefiada serves as a bridge during the month
of July for 120 campers to help retain, and expand, upon the English that they
learned during the school year and, just like any good day camp, have fun. Activities include swimming, arts and crafts, sports,
hikes, day trips, plays, songs and more.
The campers are able to strengthen their English skills and enter the
next school year better prepared to learn more English. The camp is staffed by college students from
Chicago who volunteer their time and live with Israeli host families for four
weeks. It is also an opportunity for the
American counselors to really become part of Israeli life. In addition to the American counselors there
are Israeli junior counselors and Israeli staff including a camp director.
Living Bridge- JUF’s Partnership Together People-to-People Programs
A wide variety of programs that connect the Jewish community of Chicago with the residents of Kiryat Gat, Lachish and Shafir. Some examples include Birthright, YLD, JUF and synagogue missions that visit the Region each year. Plus, Israeli 8th grade students who come to Chicago for exchanges with Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School and Solomon Schechter Day School.