Programs in the Region

Programs in the Region

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 28 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 $1,000,000 was allocated to the region through JUF’s Partnership Together.  Below are the programs that received an allocation in FY24.

SAHI’s Alumni Program

Nochah - Giving as a Way of Life, is an Israeli nonprofit with a revolutionary educational model in which at-risk youth become caring and responsible citizens who contribute to the community and create social change.

SAHI, Special Grace Unit, is the leading project of Nochah. A true win-win program, the SAHI project is a social contribution project for teenagers (13-21) in which at-risk youth with a background of violence and vandalism contribute to their community by delivering weekly food packages to families in need in their neighborhood.  
Through this project, Juvenile delinquency is reduced, as well as school vagrancy and the number of youth involved in vandalism. Through helping others, the youth's self-esteem grows and they find inner strength and new abilities to cope with their challenges.  
SAHI was established in 2009 in Kiryat Gat with JUF seed money. Today, it is a national organization with over 40 branches all over Israel.  
To learn more, take a look at  JUF's impact video about SAHI.

SAHI’s alumni program in the Partnership region provides a support system to over 100 SAHI alumni as they begin their adult lives.
The program provides alumni with the necessary guidance, consultation and social structure they need in order to become equal, productive and influential members of the Israeli society.
SAHI aims for its alumni to serve a meaningful service in the IDF, complete their IDF service, study and gain an occupation. For youth at risk without family support and guidance, those goals are ambitious and hard to reach without such a program.
SAHI’s alumni continue to volunteer as much as possible, take part in charity events and serve as an example to the young SAHI participants.


Nirim in the Neighborhoods

Nirim in the Neighborhood is a nationwide community outreach program that works directly with boys and girls at extreme risk, aged 14-19, in their Neighborhoods. The program uses unorthodox methods, such as Wilderness Therapy, which serves as the main change initiator. Wilderness Therapy enables the dramatic breakthrough and the assimilation of the tools and values the youth need to help them turn their lives around.
The program focuses on returning these teenagers to their educational frameworks, integrating them into their peer group, and strengthening their close environment, their families and their ties to the community. The staff serve as Case Managers for the youth and is in constant contact with all frameworks involved in their lives. 

Nirim in the Neighborhood has operated in Kiryat Gat, with JUF support, for many years.  A Nirim youth clubhouse in Kiryat Gat is open daily through late night.  In addition to the regular meetings and personal guidance, the organization recently launched a new leadership program in the Kiryat Gat branch. 50 boys and girls at extreme risk will acquire leadership skills.  They meet with local leaders, Nirim alumni, entrepreneurs, and IDF commanders for learning and inspiration.  The program also includes preparation for IDF service and volunteering in order to gain skills, knowledge and experiences that will enable the participants to become future leaders.


Shachar Center for Child Sexual Abuse Victims
Yachdav is a non-profit organization that carries out community-based programs in the areas of welfare, education, health and social mobility throughout Israel's southern region. 
Shachar, a regional treatment center of Yachdav in Kiryat Gat, provides a professional and holistic response to children and youth (and their family members) affected by sexual assault. 
The center uses innovative trauma-focused therapeutic practices. The treatment is focused on processing sexual trauma, its implications in various areas of life and the reduction of post-traumatic symptoms alongside multi-system work with the community, including counseling, support and programs tailored to the needs of each victim. In addition, the center trains professionals from various fields dealing with sexual abuse and promotes sexual violence awareness education.
The Music Therapy program at the Shachar Center is a psychotherapeutic method that uses musical instruments and music as therapy for patients dealing with sexual abuse trauma.
The program provides innovative trauma-focused therapeutic methods and approaches. It assesses needs and risk factors and provides professional-holistic treatment to children with inappropriate and/or abusive sexual behavior. The program also provides a professional therapeutic solution for victims of sexual assault in the ultra-Orthodox community.

Choshen Employment Rehabilitation Center                                                                             

Yachdav, an Israeli non-profit organization, is engaged in the development and operation of groundbreaking social services that provide equal opportunities and social mobility to populations facing situations of risk and exclusion in Israel’s southern region.

Choshen Employment Rehabilitation Center of Yachdav provides a rehabilitative employment solution for adults with physical, mental and cognitive disabilities from the regional councils of Shafir, Yoav and Lachish and Kiryat Gat. It is a sheltered employment center that combines job training and rehabilitation.
The center provides routine and employment along with tools and habits to improve independence and functioning in the community, thereby contributing to occupational advancement and improving the quality of life and the sense of worth among people with disabilities. The center offers numerous occupational options adapted to the abilities, preferences and functioning of beneficiaries. Professional staff accompanies the beneficiaries at every stage and also helps some of them in the process of work placement beyond the Choshen center. The center also serves as a location for social life with respite, enrichment and community-building activities.


Process rhythm workshops
The Marianne Early Childhood and Family Center provides all municipal services for preschool children and their families in Kiryat Gat. The center works to cultivate abilities, skills and guarantee equal opportunities for the children of the city while reducing the gaps and developing the potential inherent in each boy and girl. The Process Rhythm Workshops is a program of The Marianne Center’s psychiatric department. It is a music therapy program designed to help teenagers on the autistic spectrum and at-risk teenagers, all patients of The Marianne Center psychiatric department.  Over the course of twelve meetings, the program teaches and implements tools to help regulate emotions and provide a better set of social skills. The workshops are led by a music therapist accompanied by professional staff from the psychiatric department.  At the end of the program, participants volunteer in a community project as a way to enhance their feelings of accomplishment, resilience and success.


Stronger Together

The Marianne Early Childhood and Family Center provides all municipal services for preschool children and their families in Kiryat Gat. The center works to cultivate abilities and skills and to guarantee equal opportunities for the children of the city while reducing the gaps and developing the potential inherent in each child. The center’s Stronger Together program is a support community for over 250 mothers of children with disabilities, residents of Kiryat Gat. The program creates a network for mothers of children with disabilities who meet weekly and take part in therapeutic and social activities. It empowers the mothers with support and activities and allows them not only to support each other but also to have a safe space for relief.  The Marianne Center believes that supporting these mothers will in turn have a positive influence on their families, enabling a calmer and better family life.   


The Heart Choir of Kiryat Gat

The Marianne Early Childhood and Family Center provides all municipal services for preschool children and their families in Kiryat Gat. The center works to cultivate abilities and skills and to guarantee equal opportunities for the children of the city while reducing the gaps and developing the potential inherent in each child.
The Heart Choir of Kiryat Gat is a professional choir for children and teenagers with cognitive, communicative, motor or sensory disabilities. Members of the choir meet once a week for learning and rehearsals with a professional music producer. The choir sets out to empower and strengthen the self-image of adults and children with disabilities while raising social awareness and tolerance. Seeing a person with a disability performing on stage sends out a powerful message to those watching. The choir is well known in the region and participates in many events and ceremonies including at the President's house and the Knesset. It is a source of pride for the entire city.


Preparing For IDF Service

The Shafir Community Center is a hub for social and cultural community activities for all the residents of the Shafir Regional Council. 
Preparing for IDF Service, a program of the Shafir Community Center, is a yearlong program that aims to prepare youth for meaningful service at the IDF on a mental, physical and emotional level.

Program participants, roughly 200 high school juniors and seniors, residents of the Lachish Regional Council, are accompanied by a youth counselor and undergo physical and mental training as well as in-depth learning about the IDF’s screening process, its units, and the importance of serving the IDF and the State of Israel.

The program also includes dedicated workshops according to the stage the youth are in: a preparation workshop for the first screening day, preparation for an interview in the IDF, the importance of service and more. Every few months a parents’ meeting is held to keep them updated and involved.


The Equalizer

The Equalizer, an Israeli non-profit organization, works to reduce gaps in Israeli society by using sports as a tool for education and social change. The organization operates throughout the social and geographic periphery of Israel with programs that combine sports with educational and social activities.

The Equalizer project in the Partnership region operates eight soccer teams, in which children aged 9-16 who face social, economic and behavioral difficulties participate. The program responds to the after-school hours, in which children from disadvantaged families have few enrichment activities. Together with the schools, the Equalizer identifies its participants, assembles soccer teams for them and provides an intensive framework that combines professional soccer training and study sessions.
Once a month a regional tournament is organized, attended by all groups in the region. The children, who train and look forward to this tournament, get to know other players from different and similar faiths and background, making the program a bridge within Israeli society.


IGGY, Israel’s national LGBTQ+ youth organization (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer), empowers thousands of participants each year between the ages of 12 to 23, to create a meaningful social framework for themselves in a more accepting society while supporting their own understanding of sexual and/or gender identity.
IGGY’s nationwide network of volunteers and activities supports the creation of safe spaces in an often homophobic culture.

IGGY’s youth movement stands at the very center of the organization. Its Kiryat Gat branch serves LGBTQ + teenagers from Kiryat Gat and Lachish regional council.

The group meets weekly in Kiryat Gat and once a month at a regional seminar, where they feel accepted and meet peers who are dealing with similar questions.
Participants take an active role in organizing a local pride month in the region and participating in IGGY’s nationwide summer camp as well.
Local IGGY volunteers, supervised and trained by a regional coordinator and social workers, lead the activities. IGGY provides teenagers with tools on how to deal with difficulties that are common among LGBTQ+ youth such as depression, anxiety, solitude and self-harm, as well as on how to decrease at-risk behavior.


Teachers' Room Resilience

NATAL - Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center is an Israeli nonprofit organization that specializes in the field of trauma relating to war and terror. NATAL aims to advance the resiliency of Israeli society through treatment, prevention, public awareness and research.   

NATAL's Teachers’ Room Resilience is a program intended to develop resiliency among teachers in Kiryat Gat and provide them with tools and knowledge on how to deal with stressful situations and burnout. The program is made up of four sessions throughout the year. Using different techniques and activities in each session, participants receive a rich toolbox and learn the six foundations of resilience: preparation, awareness, leadership, connection, discipline and hope. Once the teachers have gained those tools, they become ambassadors of resilience in their school and community, teaching students and colleagues techniques to cope with life’s challenges and emergencies.


Education & Change

Hoshen, an Israeli non-profit organization, works to advance tolerance and understanding toward the LGBTQ+ community all over Israel. Using education, Hoshen promotes the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, eradicating homophobia and creating social change in Israel. Hoshen’s Education & Change is a program for students and faculty in Kiryat Gat. Hoshen volunteers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, run workshops to allow a personal understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and to give practical tools to create a safe and understanding space for LGBTQI+ members. They share their personal story, teach LGBTQ+ terminology and present a better understanding of the community.
Different workshops are designed for different age groups. These meetings not only provide tools for teachers on how to create an inclusive and supportive environment for students but also create a safe space for students dealing with issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation, a place where they can receive information, support and understanding.


Community Initiatives
The Lachish Community Center is a hub for social, cultural and educational community activities for all the residents of the Lachish Regional Council. 

The Community Initiatives program of the Lachish Community Center is designed to increase resilience by encouraging local initiatives for the benefit of the residents of the Lachish Regional Council.
Through the distribution of a call for social entrepreneurs, the community center aims to support and accompany about ten initiatives that will operate in the Council's communities. These initiatives will support the residents, as well as help develop local leadership and strengthen the spirit of volunteerism.
The social initiatives will be carried out in cooperation with the leadership of each community and will be accompanied by the community center and the welfare department to enable success and meaningful impact.


Women’s Identity and Leadership
​The Shafir Community Center is a hub for social and cultural community activities for all residents of the Shafir Regional Council. 

Women’s Identity and Leadership, a program created by the Shafir Community Center, aims to encourage women, aged 21-60, to take an active role in public activities in their communities as well as in Israeli society as a whole.  In partnership with the Department for the Advancement of Women in Shafir Regional Council, the program is designed to guide and encourage women to become more active and initiate social projects to benefit the community. 

The program includes group training on issues such as Israeli society, community, women's rights and involvement in public action, budget management, project planning and implementation. During the program, there is a three-day identity and leadership journey in which participants will engage in the development of a personal vision and identity. In addition, participants meet with influential women in the fields of industry, politics, culture and more for inspiration and enrichment.


Alliance- Kol Israel Haverim (KIAH) promotes educational excellence and local leadership in Israel’s periphery, cultivates a unifying Israeli Judaism and creates connections to Sephardic traditions. KIAH’s Netuim is a two-year social leadership program that nurtures and empowers college students from Israel’s periphery who see the center of their lives in the places where they grew up.
The program also operates in Kiryat Gat, attended by local socially motivated college students with leadership qualities. Students receive a tuition scholarship and participate in Jewish text study, leadership and enrichment workshops, leading to community entrepreneurship and social action.
Through Beit Midrash's learning of Sephardic Jewish texts that focus on social issues, students explore their identity, take part in open group dialogue and are motivated to social action. Students acquire tools and knowledge to become leaders in their community and implement social initiatives throughout Kiryat Gat. 


Community Integration

The Lachish Community Center is a hub for social, cultural and educational community activities for all the residents of the Lachish Regional Council. 

Community Integration, a program of the Lachish Community Center, is designed to help integrate residents of Kiryat Gat and the Lachish Regional Council, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union.

A community survey recently conducted in the Lachish Regional Council indicated that residents who are originally from the former Soviet Union have a low sense of belonging compared to the general population. The survey also revealed that these residents have low resilience and do not participate in the council's leisure and cultural activities.
Residents of Kiryat Gat of Ethiopian origin are not optimally integrated into the community either.
Community Integration program helps both these populations exercise of their rights, through individual assistance of coordinators who speak their language, and in integration into leisure and cultural activities.


Family Transition Workshops

For more than 90 years, The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has worked to overcome the biggest challenges facing the Jewish people.

The Jewish Agency operates absorption centers throughout the country that serve as the immigrants’ first home and help them integrate into Israeli society.

Shoshana Absorption Center of the Jewish Agency is a warm home for immigrant families from Ethiopia in Kiryat Gat.

As part of the immigrant absorption process, the Shoshana Absorption Center offers a series of family transition workshops that deal with the intercultural transition. The workshops, held throughout the year, help immigrants to promote their quality of life, reduce gaps and acquire tools for independent living and integration into society.

The workshops offered in the program deal with couples' relationships, parenting, maximizing rights, acquaintance with Israel’s state institutions and their laws and more.


Akashba & Matana
The Marianne Early Childhood and Family Center provides all municipal services for preschool children and their families in Kiryat Gat. The center works to cultivate abilities and skills and to guarantee equal opportunities for the children of the city while reducing the gaps and developing the potential inherent in each child.

Akashba & Matana is a training program by the Marianne Center for female volunteers to accompany and assist at-risk families in Kiryat Gat.

The program trains female volunteers with a background in education to help families at risk by reducing gaps, strengthening parental authority and imparting professional and educational skills for parenting.  Volunteers in the program visit the family once a week to support, help with immediate needs and encourage parents to become better role models for their children. The program includes training workshops, enrichment events and activities as well as lectures by professionals in the fields of education, parent-child bonding, care and counseling. The volunteers are accompanied and supervised during the program by professionals.


Single Mothers Economic Advancement

Itworks, an Israeli non-profit organization, works to narrow employment gaps and promote diversity in Israel’s booming high-tech industry. Itworks offers advanced personnel placement services and training programs for diverse populations, in order to help them access top-level high-tech industry positions.

Itworks’ Single Mothers Economic Advancement program aims to provide life-changing economic-social courses for disadvantaged single mothers from Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council, substantially improving their ability to provide for their families with dignity and financial security.
The program offers quality vocational-technological training tracks, soft-skills workshops (from CV writing to preparing for job interviews, development of self-confidence, contract negotiations, etc.) and job placement services. The vocational training focuses on professions with high employment potential and a career advancement horizon, such as insurance, digital and data analysis. Each participant is closely guided and supported by the Itworks’ team.


Tenufa Bakehila

Tenuka Bakehila ("community rising") is a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged populations overcome poverty through a holistic approach that includes repairs homes and providing social support.

The organization's staff renovates houses of families in need at no cost and creates homes that allow residents to live in safety and dignity.  The organization's social workers work with the families in building a personal rehabilitation program and its implementation.

The comprehensive response helps families to leave the cycle of poverty and return to functioning normally.  In addition, it leads to their growth and integration into the community and society. Tenufa Bakehila operates around Israel and has assisted thousands of families in need.

Shitufta in the Periphery

The Chochmat Hatorah Institute works to develop unique solutions to the challenges of the new generation in the ultra-orthodox (Haredi) community, including the accessibility of modern technologies, technological skills and knowledge.

Shitufta in the Periphery, a program of the Chochmat Hatorah Institute, aims to provide tools for the contemporary employment world for ultra-orthodox men in Kiryat Gat.

Many ultra-orthodox men find it difficult to integrate into the labor market due to the lack of basic skills and qualifications. To solve this problem, Shitufta imparts skills of the contemporary employment world to young ultra-Orthodox men in Kiryat Gat and creates digital leaders within the local ultra-Orthodox communities.

Shitufta is an online platform that contains a unique Talmud database with a system for writing and saving comments and updates on each page. Through the use of this unique platform, ultra-orthodox men acquire information skills, literacy, digital skills and many other necessary skills and qualifications, as defined by Israel’s Ministry of Education for today's developing world.


A Supportive Women's Community

Orek (Hebrew acronym for “group and community support” ), an Israeli nonprofit organization, works to establish communities for people without family support while developing relationships of trust between members of the communities, building legitimacy for life within a community and developing independence and social, emotional and economic security for members of the communities.
A Supportive Women's Community is a program of Orek in partnership with the Center for Violence Prevention in Kiryat Gat. It is a support community for women victims of domestic violence, without family support, most of them mothers of young children.

This is a self-managing women's community, democratic and egalitarian, that receives economic and community tools and social safety nets as part of the program.
The program includes learning about community life, cooperative community, leadership and community economic ventures. By developing relationships of trust and mutual responsibility between the women, the community is a source of personal and community resilience.

Pitchon Lev in the city
Pitchon Lev, an Israeli nonprofit organization, works to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty in Israel. The organization assists over 160,000 individuals and families directly every year, regardless of their gender, religion, race or nationality. 

Pitchon Lev in the City is a communal assistance center in Kiryat Gat for low-income families from all over the region. The center operates in a way that respects its customers and helps through the distribution of food baskets to needy families, a second-hand store open to the public, a social grocery store and providing holistic services to disadvantaged populations, such as assistance in exercising rights and a project to help families improve their economic and social situation.
The center is operated by professional staff and local volunteers and thus constitutes a meeting place between the volunteers and the aid recipients and contributes to strengthening community resilience.
The center aims to operate in a sustainable economic model: the income from the thrift store will be used to purchase food baskets during the year.


Employment Integration
Dualis, an Israeli nonprofit organization, promotes employment integration of at-risk young adults.
At-risk young adults, aged 18-30, have difficulty integrating into the employment market due to a lack of skills arising from their life circumstances. These are young women and men who have desire and motivation but not enough opportunities.
Dualis connects these young adults with employers for job training programs and accompanies them with social support for ideal integration. The organization works with 200 young adults annually, helping them find a job and retain their employment over time.

Dualis’ Employment Integration program helps incorporate at-risk young adults from Kiryat Gat into the workforce by matching potential employers and employees. The program accompanies the employees during the initial work period to make sure they are settling in.
At-risk young adults, men and women, aged 18-30 who participate in the program have difficulty integrating into the employment market, due to the lack of both family support and guidance and the missing abilities and skills that were not acquired or developed during their years as at-risk youth. The resulting gaps are difficult to bridge as time passes.

Dualis accompanies program participants and helps them assimilate as workers in appropriate employment settings. Dualis also accompanies the employers, since the employment of at-risk young adults requires a different approach and employers who are not used to working with marginalized populations require support.


Crossing the street

Women’s Spirit, an Israeli nonprofit organization, works to promote economic independence for women survivors of abuse. Women’s Spirit strives to create social change from a feminist perspective and commitment to social and gender justice. 

Women’s Spirit’s Crossing the Street program sets out to improve economic and employment conditions and to break the cycle of poverty and abuse among women survivors of domestic abuse who live in the partnership region- Kiryat Gat, Shafir Regional Council and Lachish Regional Council.

Crossing the Street creates tailor-made solutions according to the needs and preferences of each participant while taking into account the difficulties that characterize victims of violence, such as post-trauma, low self-esteem and more.

The program includes occupational rehabilitation, assisting with legal rights and creating better employment opportunities through professional training in order to achieve economic independence. All mentoring and personal training are done by female volunteers who also help with finding suitable scholarships for those interested in studying, and more. The program meets the participants in their communities, which also enables each woman to cultivate connections and support within her community as she strives to improve her life situation.

Yozmot Atid
Yozmot Atid (Hebrew for “initiating the future”) is a non-profit organization that works to reduce the socioeconomic gaps in Israel by empowering underprivileged women with the tools to establish and develop small businesses.

Yozmot Atid accompanies women from Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council, with low socio-economic backgrounds or financial complexity, providing them with comprehensive support in establishing an independent business that will allow them to earn a living with dignity and achieve financial independence.
It is an intense year-long business training program that covers all the different aspects of starting a business, including identifying one’s strengths and creating a business plan, marketing, planning a budget, personal and business support, business management and more.
Participants acquire the skills and tools required to establish an independent business. Throughout the year, they receive personal mentoring, network opportunities and guidance. 

Shekel’s Community Inclusion

Shekel-Community Integration for People with Disabilities is an Israeli nonprofit organization that promotes community integration services for people with special needs such as community housing, employment, culture, care accessibility and more.

Shekel’s Community Inclusion project provides independent housing, employment, and leisure activities to over 400 young adults with special needs throughout Israel.
The project aims to promote integration, interaction, and independence among its beneficiaries at the social, economic, and community levels. Kibbutz Ein Tzurim and Kibbutz Masu'ot Yitzhak, both located at the Shafir Regional Council, house a dozen young adults with special needs. They live together, learn how to be independent, manage their own life and gain social and personal skills. Together they enjoy leisure activities such as gym and drama classes that boost their health and communication. Essentially, they become integral members of those communities, a win-win for all involved.


Municipal Children’s Parliament

The Edith Falk Community Center is a hub for educational and cultural activities for all residents of Kiryat Gat.
The municipal children's parliament in Kiryat Gat is composed of representatives of the city's elementary schools, who were selected by fellow students in democratic elections.
The Parliament, led by The Edith Falk Community Center, is a municipal body that contributes to the representation, strengthening and empowerment of the elementary school students in the city.
As part of the project the parliament members, who are students in 5th and 6th grade, learn about democracy, elect parliamentary official leaders and visit the Israeli Knesset.


Aharai Tech

Aharai ("follow me" in Hebrew) is a social and educational Israeli non-profit organization engaged in developing young leadership, as well as encouraging social involvement among youth and young adults.

Members begin contact with Aharai at the last crossroad when their future can still be influenced by education. Through educational programs that connect participants to milestones of Israeli society, the organization instills in its school-aged members a feeling of success while encouraging them to be contributing citizens in Israeli society.

Aharai Tech is a ground-breaking project developed through a joint effort of Aharai and 8200 Unit Alumni Association. It aims to prepare youth living in Israel’s periphery for meaningful service in technological units in the IDF. The courses instill success, ability, and social solidarity in its participants and enables them to connect to the Hi-Tech community, and gain hands-on experience in the field.
The project targets youth (age 15-18) who do not study tech subjects in school and are interested in learning skills for the 21st century workforce.


Tzahali’s Community Involvement Project

The Yaacov Herzog Center for Jewish Studies is an educational center focusing on brining different sectors of Israeli society together, from teenagers through senior citizens, with the goal of better understanding one another and cultivating a richer and more respectful and tolerant society.

Tzahali, a program of the Yaacov Herzog Center is the first pre-army preparatory program for Orthodox young women, that contribute to their communities and serve as leaders.  The studies in Tzahali enable Orthodox young women to formulate their inner beliefs, to cope with challenges that require responsibility, independence and leadership and to learn about Israeli society in depth.

Through living as a group, the young women are learning and developing before their enlistment in the army.  It gives them the skills and abilities to enlist individually or as part of a group to the IDF. As part of Tzahali's Community Involvement Project the young women volunteer weekly to work with vulnerable populations throughout the Partnership region.  The project benefits not only the recipients but also the young women themselves, as it increases their personal responsibility, empowers them and deepens their familiarity with Israeli society.

On Your Way

Hinneni (“Here I am” in Hebrew) is an Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the Ethiopian-Israeli community across Israel’s social and geographic periphery. Members of Hinneni communities run a variety of programs for all ages, strengthening the local community and serving as role models.

Hinneni’s On Your Way is a project for women who are social activists among the local Israeli- Ethiopian community in Kiryat Gat. The project gives participants tools to help process their Aliyah experiences and their journey from Ethiopia to Israel into art works. These art works are presented at the end of the project at Hinneni’s Beta Israel village and serves as a platform for the women’s voices and for a discourse about the heritage of the Ethiopian Jewish community.
In addition, the project offers the participants skills to cope with challenges and crises on a personal and community level, while striving to strengthen their abilities and involvement in the Ethiopian Jewish community in Kiryat Gat.  The knowledge, experience and tools acquired by participants in the program are used later in their work as social activities and help to expand their influence.

Relationship and Skills

Lachish Community Center serves as a hub of social and educational activities for the residents of the Lachish regional council.

Relationship and Skills, a community center program, works to improve the well-being and quality of life of senior citizens living in the council who suffer from decreased cognitive function and dementia and therefore rarely leave their homes.
Volunteers, who are residents of the local council, visit the homes of these senior citizens weekly. Through a unique kit containing tools and games developed especially for this population, they pleasant their shared time with the senior citizens and contribute to improving their memory and cognitive function.
Both volunteers and the family members undergo professional training on the use of the tools in this kit and thus make sure that they give the best care to their beneficiaries.


Healthy Lifestyle 

The Edith Falk Community Center is a hub for educational and cultural activities for all residents of Kiryat Gat.
The center’s Healthy Lifestyle project helps senior citizens maintain a healthy lifestyle by encouraging physical activity and proper nutrition.
Encouraging daily physical activity and changing dietary habits help maintain the physical and mental health of senior citizens as well as contribute to their social life.
A walking group, Pilates, Tai Chi, and nutrition workshops which are offered as part of Healthy Lifestyle serve not only as physical activities but also as experiential and social activities which contribute to personal empowerment and alleviating loneliness.

Pathways to Early Childhood

Pathways to Early Childhood is an educational program of the Shafir Community Center.
Early childhood years are the foundation of child development, and Pathway to Early Childhood aims to provide enrichment and professional tools to early childhood educators and parents throughout the Shafir Regional Council.
The program prevents burnout and creates professional networks among early childhood educators in the Council. It also provides parents of young children with knowledge and workshops to enhance parent-child bonding and quality time. The program aspires to establish and promote valuable relationships between all of the caring adults surrounding the child.

An additional component of Pathway to Early Childhood is preparation for the first grade among kindergarten children.

Pathways to Early Childhood influences approximately 1,500 beneficiaries, including children (aged 0-7) and their parents, preschool educational teams, day care centers and kindergartens, and families with children with special needs.



Amit Laderech (“a friend for the road” in Hebrew) strives to successfully integrate young veteran soldiers from disadvantaged backgrounds into civilian life and society.
Amit Laderech’s Startline project provides a unique opportunity for talented young adults who lack support and resources to develop a career and integrate as programmers in Israel’s high-tech industry.
Startline recruits young adults with high potential for an accelerated programming boot camp. The boot camp is tailor-made to their needs and is done in cooperation with leading talents in the Israeli high-tech world.
Program participants receive professional, academic, emotional, and social support and assistance in their first steps in their careers. Among the services provided in the program is preparation for job interviews, soft skills, tutoring, support from a social worker and a personal mentor, and more. In addition, the program places special emphasis on supporting its participants even during their employment.
Startline provides its participants with an integrative and supportive program necessary for their successful integration into the workplace and flourishing career.

Tofsim Kivun

Educating for Excellence strives to strengthen Israeli society by reducing socioeconomic 
disparity, promoting equality and creating social mobility opportunities for youth with potential for excellence from Israel’s social and geographic periphery.

Educating for Excellence's Tofsim Kivun ("choosing a path" in Hebrew) enables college graduates from underserved communities across Israel to enter the job market, facilitating vital socio-economic growth in the state of Israel.

As part of the program, there is cooperation between local youth organizations, which connects program participants and graduates of elite military units, to mentor and volunteer with them.

The program advocates the concept that in order to pave the way in the world of employment to a suitable job and develop a career, tools, personal mentoring, and a network of connections are necessary. Tofsim Kivun participants receive all these and more. It has a placement success rate of over 92%.

Tofsim Kivun operates in Kiryat Gat in cooperation with the Tnufa Youth Center, the Dovdvan Alumni associations (IDF elite unit), and Intel, which provide mentors that accompany the young adults on their way to developing suitable and meaningful careers.


Neve Hanna Children's Home

Neve Hanna Children's Home houses over 80 children aged 6-18 that were taken out of their homes by court order. 40 additional children join Neve Hanna's daycare program and return home every night. At Neve Hanna, all of the children's needs are met, including therapy and enrichment. They gain life skills and prepare for independent adult life.

Following the Covid pandemic, Neve Hanna Children's Home needed to reinforce and widen its educational, therapeutic and enrichment programs to help the children (which are not on the same developmental level as their age peers to begin with) deal with the fallout of the pandemic. Reducing education gaps, dealing with emotional scars that can damage social behavior, improving the parent-child relationship and their life as a community are among the challenges that Neve Hanna addresses in this program as a result of the pandemic.  


Transitions- Youth Futures

Youth Futures is a mentorship program of the Jewish Agency for Israel that empowers children and youth by fostering a positive and supportive environment. 
The program partners adult mentors with at-risk children for a long-term period of cooperative learning and growth. The mentors focus on personal, familial, social and educational areas in an effort to give the children the tools to navigate challenges and celebrate achievements in a constructive way. 
Youth Futures' Transition Program prepares sixth graders and their families from Kiryat Gat for the challenging transition from elementary school to middle school. A personal plan is tailored to each participant and includes individual and group sessions to work on transition issues, volunteering projects and meetings with support groups to strengthen the children's adolescence process and improve each child's self-esteem. The program also prepares the participants' parents for the upcoming change in their child's lives.

From Risk to Resilience

From Risk to Resilience, a program of the Lachish Regional Community Center, aims to help local at-risk youth in middle school and high school.
The program was created in response to loneliness, academic challenges, and social difficulties as reported by youths after two years in which the COVID-19 pandemic created instability in general, and specifically in the education system.
Data from the Ministry of Education also indicates a sharp rise in risky behavior among youth and children following the pandemic.
The program's eight groups of at-risk youth accompanied by an expert instructor, who uses outdoor activity as a tool to encourage a healthy lifestyle, develop personal resilience and reduce risky behaviors.


Etgarim for Children with Special Needs

Etgarim ("challenges" in Hebrew) is an Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities through outdoor sports.
Etgarim's activities are centered on adventure-based therapy which aims to bring change through positive experiences, learning and empowerment and usually takes place in an environment that presents certain elements of risk. This unique and empowering intervention, which has been proven particularly effective in working with populations with disabilities, enables them to internalize the concept of "Yes I can".
The effectiveness of Etgarim's activities has been studied and proven to be a tool for personal empowerment, for strengthening self-confidence and self-esteem and for expanding abilities in all aspects of life.
Etgarim for children with special needs is an outdoor program for students who attend special education schools and kindergartens throughout the Partnership Region.
The program helps to strengthen the children's self-confidence, leading them to focus on their abilities rather than their inabilities.
It is designed to affect four main axes: the emotional, motor, cognitive, and social axis. The experiences from the challenging tasks in nature and the team work help participants deal with their environment in a better way.


Enosh Digital training

Enosh, the Israeli Mental Health Association, runs 75 service centers for people with psychosocial disabilities and their family members.  Over 950 mental health professionals and 1,000 volunteers provide support in the fields of housing and living skills, employment facilitation, social skill training, recreation and family counseling.

Enosh's digital platform for mental health rehabilitation services in Kiryat Gat is designed to strengthen mental resilience among service consumers. Enosh's center in Kiryat Gat operates a hybrid model that combines support and care both in the center itself and online, making its services accessible to many consumers who aren't able to come into the center itself.  It provides a continuous and stable process of professional support.  Using the digital platform people with psychosocial disabilities are offered rehabilitation services that help alleviate loneliness, assimilate life skills and develop social skills.

Lifesaving Team Chicago

United Hatzalah of Israel is a volunteer emergency medical service organization that provides the fastest free emergency first response throughout Israel.  
When emergencies occur, rapid medical treatment increases the chances of survival exponentially. Using specially equipped motorcycle ambulances, United Hatzalah's network of more than 5,000 volunteer medics helps save thousands of lives each year across Israel by providing medical treatment in an average response time of 3 minutes or less. 
United Hatzalah's humanitarian services are free, universal and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
United Hatzalah volunteers provide free medical treatment to more than 5,000 citizens in the Partnership Region annually. Project Lifesaving Team Chicago enables them to continue to protect the health and safety of all citizens by providing medical equipment replacement, annual training, recognition, emotional support and everything else the volunteers need to continue saving lives in the Partnership Region.


Together With Consent

Maslan is the Negev's sexual assault and domestic violence support center.  
Together With Consent is Maslan's psycho-educational program for high school students by identifying personal and social boundaries, thereby promoting respectful interpersonal and sexual relationships. While in the program, the students acquire knowledge about sexual violence and obtain tools to distinguish between healthy and harmful sexual behaviors. 
Three of the four workshops of Together With Consent are gender-separated as the content requires relevant reference to the physical and psychological development of each of the genders. 


Space Kids

The Ramon Foundation was named after Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon who was killed in the Columbia disaster. It aims to nurture the values of academic excellence, social leadership and groundbreaking courage to a new generation of young Israelis through advanced programs in the fields of science, aviation and space.  
Space Kids, an educational program of the Ramon Foundation, aims to establish a scientific and technological orientation among kindergarten children. The program works to create a positive relation to science and technology, establish a formal base of knowledge in science and give children the conceptual tools which will allow them to understand and express scientific principles at a young age. 
Space Kids operates in many kindergartens and pre- schools throughout the Partnership region. 

Yael's House

Located in Neta in the Lachish Regional Council, Yael 's House is a regional social meeting place for children with special needs, as well as their peers and parents.
Yael 's House is designed to help children with special needs to develop their social skills and enjoy a safe and accessible environment with their peers. It also helps their parents, who get to see their children socially involved and enriched.
Yael's House is open every day in the afternoon hours under the guidance of professional staff and volunteers. It aspires to serve as a social and fun center for children with special needs from all over the Partnership region.


When the Chicago-Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir Partnership was looking to maximize impact with a flagship project years ago, it didn't take much effort to identify education as the one area in which the gaps were the most apparent and where our community could have the greatest influence. JUF’s first flagship project, Israel Children's Zone (ICZ), provided a comprehensive intervention in state and state-religious elementary schools in the region, encompassing 6,500 students aged 6 to 12 as well as hundreds of teachers. The projest provided the schools with a full mapping of every child's need and supplied a basket of therapies and interventions, giving solutions to almost 100% of kids' needs - emotional, social and academic. Independent assessment proved that for many, we "moved the needle." 

As planned, the program ran for five years and left behind the building blocks that would allow schools to continue running it, albeit using other funding sources. It was then time for to build a new flagship project and after discussions with the mayors in the region and their staff, and after researching many different needs, the conclusion was that the next flagship project would again support the educational system, but this time focusing more closely on STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and English. Thus was born Sulamot - JUF's STEM flagship project. 

Sulamot ("ladders" in Hebrew) is a unique project designed to effect change in the region's educational system. The project comprises of three components:

-      Teacher training and in person mentoring

-      After school STEM programs for excelling students

-      Innovative learning environments in schools

After much research and generous support from a community leader active in the Partnership, JUF’s P2G funded in conjunction with Intel Corporation and others a year-long mapping process to identify the gaps and needs in our region's STEM education. Then two organizations specializing in STEM education identified and brought together to form a unique, unified and indeed unprecedented partnership to design and implement a program in JUF region.
The Davidson Institute (the Weizmann Institute's educational arm) and Beit Yatziv, a teacher training center located in Beer Sheba, were chosen to train JUF’s P2G region's teachers in the most cutting-edge methods of imparting STEM learning to 21st century students.

The project was launched in September 2019 in 17 schools and scaled up to 24 schools in the 2021-2022 academic year, with each school receiving one or more components of Sulamot. It creates a STEM ecosystem and "language" encompassing teachers, students, learning spaces and a connection with the community at large.
The Partnership steering committee, composed of half lay leadership from Chicago and half from the Partnership region, approved the budget for the project. Other partners include local authorities, corporations and private donors.
JUF's STEM flagship project runs in full conjunction with the Ministry of Education and the heads of education in the three regional councils. They take ownership over the project's content, determining its scope and breadth and making sure that all schools are able to maximize its potential. 

By addressing the gaps in STEM education among third to sixth graders, the project has a robust, long-term goal: to grow the number of students electing to study (5 point) high-level math, physics and science for their high school matriculation exams. There is a direct correlation between 5-point matriculation in these subjects and eligibility for service in the IDF's elite technological units such as 8200. Once trained in those units, graduates of the STEM initiative will have gained years of hands-on experience and access to countless possibilities for academic advancement and, ultimately, gainful employment in Israel's hi-tech industry, which currently has a shortage of close to ten thousand qualified engineers and will likely need many more as the tech sector continues to grow. With Intel, HP and other tech companies employing thousands in Kiryat Gat, employment opportunities for alumni of our program are almost endless. 

For the Chicago community, the STEM flagship project is a great fit. It continues JUF’s quarter century involvement in the Partnership region in a strategic and meaningful way, providing solutions to a real need articulated by the residents of the region.
This project allows hundreds of children in Kiryat Gat, Lachish and Shafir to fulfill their potential and maximize resources otherwise unavailable to them. They deserve a chance to excel. JUF’s P2G provide them with the tools to do that and a more promising horizon. 
To learn more about Sulamot watch this short video.


People to people projects

Living Bridge

Living bridge is the Partnership's school exchange program, which promotes people to people connections between high school students in Kiryat Gat and Chicago. 
During the school year, the Israeli high school students learn about the history of Israel, Israel advocacy and Jewish life in the Diaspora. They visit Chicago to learn first-hand about the Jewish community and meet with their peers form the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School and the Solomon Schechter Day School in Chicago.
The students from Chicago visit Israel as well and spend a day in Kiryat Gat meeting with their Israeli friends.



Kefiada is a full- immersion English speaking day camp for 4th to 6th graders from Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council. Half of the camp counselors are Israelis and half are college students who are either from Chicago or go to school in Chicago.  
Kefiada assists Israeli children in improving their basic English language skills in a camp setting while enjoying creative and fun camp activities (very similar to the kinds of camp experiences in the USA). English and other skills taught in the camp are essential to these children as they begin to compete and interact in today's world.
The American counselors experience life in Israel, live with local families and connect with the other camp counselors while enjoying enrichment and fun activities.

Kefiada is one of the best People-to-People programs, strengthening the "living bridge" between Chicago and Israel since 1998. For more information click  here.


Diller Teen Fellows

 Diller Teen Fellows is a prestigious yearlong fellowship for high school students interested in exploring topics in leadership, Jewish identity, social justice, and Israel. The Diller program operates in 32 communities in North America, South Africa, Australia, South America, Europe, and Israel with the goal of developing future generations of active, effective leaders with strong Jewish identities, commitment to the Jewish people, respect for pluralism, and love of Israel.

Chicago launched its first cohort in 2013 in partnership with JUF's Partnership Together region in Israel. As part of the program, Diller teens from the Partnership region visits Chicago for a 12-day peer exchange. The Diller teens from Chicago travel to Israel for a three-week Israel Summer Seminar that includes touring and exploring Israel and one week in the Partnership region with their Israeli peers.

For more information on JUF’s Diller Teen Fellows program click here .