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Kiryat Gat honors Chicago Jewish community for 20 years of ‘Partnership Together’

Through Partnership Together, the Chicago Jewish community has supported various organizations and projects in the city and impacted thousands of lives.

Yakir award image
Ofer Bavly (center), director of JUF's Israel Office, receives the Yakir award from Minister Miri Regev (second from left) and Kiryat Gat Mayor Aviram Dahari (second from right).

The Israeli city of Kiryat Gat recognized the Chicago community and JUF this week for 20 years of continued support of the region (which includes Lachish and Shafir) through the Jewish Agency for Israel's Partnership Together initiative.

Through Partnership Together , the Chicago Jewish community has supported various organizations and projects in the city and impacted thousands of lives. As such, Mayor Aviram Dahari conferred on JUF the title of "Yakir Kiryat Gat," which roughly translates to "Beloved of Kiryat Gat."

Ofer Bavly, director of JUF's Israel Office, received the award on behalf of the organization and the Chicago Jewish community at the city's 60th anniversary celebration this week.

"No single philanthropy has done what JUF has for the city of Kiryat Gat in the last 20 years," Dahari said. He noted that the Chicago community has come through particularly in times of hardship, such as the 2014 Gaza war.

Also present at the gala was Israeli Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev, a native of Kiryat Gat, JUF staff in Israel, Partnership Director Omer Givati, Partnership Committee Co-Chair Amir Ellenberg and members of the Partnership committee.

"For most of our region's residents, the connection with the Partnership makes the meaning of our ties with American Jewry very real as well as the meaning of solidarity, which is very personal for us," Ellenberg said. "For me and for my family, the Partnership enables us to fulfill our values, both at the local social level and in building a community and a Jewish home without limits."

In over half a century, Kiryat Gat has gone from a small village of temporary caravans and shacks to a city of 50,000 residents with a thriving industrial zone, a basketball team in Israel's top league and a new neighborhood that when finished will house more than 20,000 people.

Two weeks prior, JUF's Partnership Together committee members visited the region to learn about its current needs and to allocate funds to worthy projects.

Participants also attended the dedication of the new Alex Brand Learning Center, which was made possible through a generous bequest from Alex Brand to the JUF Centennial Campaign and will serve as a living tribute to the Brandstadter and Fishgrund families. The center will provide needed services and educational enrichment for local children. 

The trip was led by Partnership Chair and JUF Board Member Kim Shwachman.  

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