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 27 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 FY23.

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 (who are not on the same developmental level as peers in their age group) 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.  

Neve Hanna received a JUF emergency grant during the Covid -19 crisis, allowing the children's home to purchase much needed emergency equipment for the children in residential and daycare programs.   


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 are 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 learning, empowerment, and positive experiences. Etgarim for Children with Special Needs is an outdoor program for students who attend special education schools and kindergartens throughout the Partnership Region.

In order to enable participants to internalize the concept of “Yes I can”, Etgarim utilizes a unique and empowering intervention, organizing activities that usually take place in an environment which presents certain elements of challenge and risk. This approach has been proven particularly effective in working with populations with disabilities. The effectiveness of Etgarim's activities have been studied and proven to be a tool for personal empowerment, for strengthening self-confidence and for expanding abilities in all aspects of life.

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 of accomplishing challenging tasks in nature, combined with teamwork help participants deal with their environment in a better way.


Enosh Digital training

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, thus making its services accessible to consumers who aren't able to come to 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.

During the Covid-19 crisis United Hatzalah was at the forefront of the pandemic, helping thousands of people test for Covid-19 and cope with the illness. JUF supported United Hatzalah with emergency grants, allowing the organization to purchase much needed personal protective equipment for medics and oxygen tanks for the elderly.

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 that identifies personal and social boundaries to promote respectful interpersonal and sexual relationships. While in the program, students acquire knowledge about sexual violence and obtain tools to distinguish between healthy and harmful sexual behaviors. Three of their four workshops are gender-separated as the content requires relevant reference to the physical and psychological development of each of the genders. 

During the Covid -19 crisis many Israelis experienced higher levels of stress and a resulting rise in domestic violence. JUF and the Jewish Women's Foundation (an independent project of JUF) have supported Maslan with additional grants, allowing the organization to improve and expand the support of victims during the period of the pandemic.   

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 in 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 relationship with 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. 

SAHI-Special Grace Unit

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 local families in need. Through this project, juvenile delinquency, school vagrancy, and juvenile vandalism are reduced. By helping others, the youth's self-esteem grows, and they find inner strength and new abilities to cope with their challenges.  

During the Covid -19 crisis SAHI was at the forefront of the pandemic: the organization mobilized quickly and set up large-scale food distribution centers. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, SAHI was able to help over 70,000 people in need during the pandemic. 
JUF and its donors supported SAHI with emergency grants, allowing the organization to provide hundreds of emergency food packages for Holocaust survivors & families in need in the Partnership region. 

SAHI was established in 2009 in Kiryat Gat with JUF seed money. Today, it is a national organization with over 30 branches all over Israel. To learn more, take a look at  JUF's impact video about SAHI.

Nirim in the Neighborhood

Nirim in the Neighborhood is a community outreach program that works directly with 60 boys and girls at extreme risk, aged 14-19, from Kiryat Gat. The project uses unorthodox methods, such as Wilderness Therapy, which serves as the main change initiator.

Wilderness Therapy enables the dramatic breakthrough and assimilation of tools and values the youth need to help them turn their lives around. The project focuses on returning teenagers to their educational frameworks, integrating them into their peer group, and strengthening their close familial and communal environments. The staff serve as Case Managers for the youth and are in constant contact with all frameworks involved in their lives. 

A Nirim club house in Kiryat Gat is open daily and late into the night. A Nirim class, a complementary project developed with the Ministry of Education, targets returning dropout students to school. To learn more, take a look at JUF's impact video about NIRIM.


Ma'agalim in High Schools

Ma'agalim ("circles" in Hebrew) is an educational non-profit organization that empowers at-risk youth from the geographical and social peripheries of Israel and helps them undergo a process of personal growth. The Ma'aglim in High Schools program aims to help and encourage at -risk students to graduate high school, join pre-army preparatory programs, and be socially involved. Ma'agalim's experienced team helps the students raise awareness of their social role, take responsibility for themselves and the people around them, learn about their Jewish identity, realize the importance of meaningful service in the IDF, and more. 

Ma'agalim in High School 's transformational process begins in the 11th grade, with weekly personal and group mentoring sessions, and continues through 12th grade. The program mentors work with the youth for two years, serving as their role model. They motivate and empower the youth to succeed and reach their goals.

Sheltered Summer Camps

Every year during the month of August, the Shafir Regional Council provides Sheltered Summer Camps for children in need (aged 6-10). The camps operate in 10 different communities throughout Shafir Regional Council, providing programming and structure that the children wouldn’t otherwise have access to. The camp counselors are socially involved youth, residents of the Shafir Regional Council. The camps provide work solutions for local teens during the summer, training them to be responsible for younger children, while also providing a safe and nurturing camp experience for young children in need. 


Shachar Center

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 the sexual trauma, its implications in various areas of life, and the reduction of post-traumatic symptoms. This treatment is utilized alongside multi-system work with the community, including counseling, support and programs tailored to the needs of each victim. Additionally, the center trains professionals from various fields dealing with sexual abuse and promotes sexual violence awareness education. 

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 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.


Ofanim's STEM Enrichment Program

Ofanim is a non-profit organization that provides extra-curricular STEM education and enrichment activities in peripheral communities for children who have fewer opportunities to access high quality educational or after-school activities. Ofanim utilizes mobile labs, which are retrofitted buses equipped with computers and technology. With the mobile labs visiting different communities, Ofanim works to reduce gaps among 3rd to 6th graders in the periphery, exposing them to new worlds of science and technology, encouraging curiosity, and motivating them to succeed in school to pursue a higher education in STEM fields. Ofanim operates numerous enrichment programs in science and technology for elementary school students throughout Kiryat Gat and Shafir Regional Council.


The Equalizer is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and strengthen youth through educational sports programs. Bo’atot ("kicking" in Hebrew) is a social program for girls of The Equalizer, which combines girls' soccer practice with empowerment. Bo’atot was created in response to the lack of inclusion of young girls in sports in general, particularly the shortage of girls' soccer programs. The program aims to reduce the gender gaps in Israeli sports. 

On the personal level, the program aims to empower participants, improving their body image and self-confidence. Participants gain life skills, leadership skills, and a sense of belonging. On the national level, the program aims to develop the women's soccer industry in Israel and to expose as many girls as possible to this sport. 

Bo’atot runs soccer teams in schools and community centers in the Partnership Region and around the country. The program includes professional soccer training alongside social enrichment activities and regional and national tournaments.

Theater Class for Children at Risk

The Kiryat Gat community center offers an afterschool theater class for local children and at-risk youth, ages 6-16. The classes serve as therapy and provide participants with tools to cope with complex social situations while strengthening their self-confidence. Additionally, the program exposes participants and their parents to theater plays by sponsoring their tickets. This program provides after school care for children with no evening enrichment due to programmatic costs.


Value Through Martial Arts

Sport for Social Change is a non-profit organization that uses traditional martial arts to bring together children and youth from diverse social, economic, and cultural backgrounds in Israel. Values through Martial Arts ("Derech Erech" in Hebrew) is an educational program of Sport for Social Change. The program operates at the Shoshana Absorption Center in Kiryat Gat, where children who made Aliya from Ethiopia live in their first few years in Israel. 

The program includes weekly training, which uses martial arts as an educational and social platform. While learning traditional martial arts, children gain confidence, patience, respect, and other important values. Children meet with participants from different places in Israel (fellow clubs) for training, competitions, and social gatherings, exposing them to different sectors of Israeli society. The program also includes volunteer activities that strengthen the participants' connection to their community, instilling in them the value of giving.

Youth Leaders in the Community

Youth Leaders in the Community, a strategic program of the Shafir Community Center, empowers the youth of the Shafir Regional Council and connects them to their communities. The program trains local youth to be leaders while contributing to their communities. They volunteer with younger children (1st -6th grade), providing them with much needed after-school social activities. They also volunteer with senior residents in the region, as part of an inter-generational project. Being socially involved and giving back to their community keeps the youth away from violence and vandalism. It instills values in them and prepares the next generation of leaders in the Council. 


That's my Brother

That's My Brother, a program of the Marianne Early Childhood and Family Center in Kiryat Gat, supports young brothers and sisters of children with special needs. The program was founded by a group of Diller alumni (a P2G program) and based on the model of "big brother, little brother". Youth from Kiryat Gat volunteer in this project and are responsible for the content of the weekly meetings and activities, under the guidance of a social worker. 

That's My Brother creates a peer group of children who face similar realities and difficulties, providing them with support and relief. The project also raises awareness, among teens, of the diversity and complex reality of family members to children with disabilities 

Grow Together

Grow Together, a program of the Marianne Early Childhood and Family Center in Kiryat Gat, aspires to reduce gaps affecting young children of disadvantaged families during their early childhood years. Their goal is to ensure that all children in Kiryat Gat will have an equal opportunity to succeed. Grow Together is designed to provide tools, knowledge, guidance, and support for disadvantaged families with young children (aged 0-6) in Kiryat Gat. The program provides a range of services to families from the pregnancy stage until the child is 6 years old, creating continuity and ongoing training according to each child's developmental stage and each family's specific needs. Among the services offered are "mommy and me" groups, personal mentoring at the family's home, parenting training, subsidized early childhood enrichment, and more. 

Communal Justice Centers

The Association for the Advancement of Community Centers in Israel works to encourage cultural life, as well as educational, social, and communal activities through over 1,000 community centers in Israel. The Communal Justice Center of the Association for the Advancement of Community Centers in Israel works in Kiryat Gat and Lachish Regional Council. The center helps underprivileged populations overcome barriers that prevent them from maximizing basic health and welfare rights, thus promoting their economic and social rehabilitation. The center assists over 450 residents a year with the help of a team of professional workers and volunteers from the Partnership Region. Together, they provide assistance and guidance in exercising one’s rights; contributing to the improvement of underprivileged populations’ quality of life and encouraging them to take an active role in changing their economic and social status.  


Krembo Wings- Kiryat Gat Branch

Named after a favorite Israeli seasonal treat that is so delicate it needs to be wrapped by hand; Krembo Wings is a national youth movement for children with mild to severe special needs. It is the first youth movement in the world for special needs kids. The Krembo Wings branch in Kiryat Gat meets weekly after school and brings together children and youth, age 7-21, with special needs, matching each one with two able-bodied and specially trained peers, age 10-18. This allows each child to fully participate in all the activities, which include group games, songs, drama, and arts and crafts.

Krembo Wings has expanded the impact of inclusion by lowering the age limit for able-bodied children in the Kiryat Gat branch, introducing inclusion from a younger age. As children begin their activities at a younger age, they become more experienced counselors, able to bear more responsibilities, and as a result, their sense of self-confidence and self-esteem grows. The Krembo Wings branch in Kiryat Gat serves the entire Partnership Region. The program provides participants with transportation to and from each session and a qualified nursing care worker is always present. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, JUF supported Krembo Wings with an emergency grant, helping the organization provide emotional support and a sense of social belonging to all its members and their families.

Cracking the Glass Ceiling

Alliance - Kol Israel Haverim (KIAH) is a leading educational organization in Israel. Cracking the Glass Ceiling is a unique initiative of KIAH that offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) studies to young girls in junior high and high school (ages 14-18) in Israel's social and geographic periphery. Often, the environment in which these girls grow up does not direct them towards making early academic decisions to secure their future. In addition, they lack academic female role-models, which minimizes their ambitious drive, even when they have the talent and ability to succeed.

This five-year program enables a genuine process of change and growth and aims for its participants to graduate high school with a top-level matriculation diploma -the first barrier to quality higher education. Cracking the Glass Ceiling is currently implemented in six municipalities, including Kiryat Gat, and reaches over 2,000 girls.

Youth Leadership Training for Crisis Response

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 Youth Leadership Training for Crisis Response enables youth from Kiryat Gat to actively cope with emergency situations, enabling them to become social activists and strengthen their community in times of crisis. The project trains youth from Kiryat Gat to be ambassadors of resilience and to volunteer in emergencies to help their community. Program participants receive a rich toolbox which prepares them to act, assist, and actively deal with local and national emergency situations, while demonstrating leadership and pride in their work.  

As part of the training, NATAL's professionals teach the youth theoretically and practically about emergency interventions and expose them to the municipal preparedness in Kiryat Gat, which includes all emergency authorities. The project empowers the youth and gives them an important role in times of emergency, while contributing to strengthening the community and the communal support infrastructure in time of routine and emergency.

During the Covid-19 crisis JUF and its donors supported NATAL with emergency grants, allowing the organization to support medical staff, emergency staff, and many Israelis who suffer from trauma and higher stress due to the pandemic.  


Youth of Light

Patrizio Paoletti Association for Development and Communication in Israel aims to generate individual and collective change amongst youth. The organization strives for a society where every child will receive the proper tools to fulfill their inner potential, both as an individual and as part of society, so that they may contribute to a just, strong and peace-seeking society. 

Youth of Light, a project of the Patrizio Paoletti Association, is an employment project for at risk youth in Kiryat Gat. The project participants are employed in a unique candle making workshop where they acquire employment, entrepreneurial, and life skills while learning and applying development, productions, and marketing processes. Through individual and group activities, and employment in the candle making workshop, the project aims to create an employment horizon for the youth. Additionally, Youth of Light promotes a professional educational discourse and provides the school's educational staff with guidance and professional tools.

Generations Theater  

Curtain Call is an Israeli nonprofit organization that works toward strengthening community empowerment and social resilience through community theater. Curtain Call’s Generations Theater project in Israel works to empower and integrate members of the Ethiopian community into Israeli society. Through this project, women and youth of the Ethiopian community from Kiryat Gat, gain experiential tools to overcome personal and social barriers.

Using community theater, participants get to develop their personal skills and strengthen their self-confidence and sense of competence. Through the process of group bonding, participants gain a feeling of belonging amongst themselves and their community. Participants deal with complex social issues and become agents of social change by highlighting these issues on stage through plays they create and perform. The two groups of Generations Theater in Kiryat Gat, women group and youth group, promote involvement and community empowerment to reduce disparities in the region.

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 amongst 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, which boost their health and communication. Essentially, they become integral members of those communities; a win-win for all involved. 

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 serve as a platform for the women’s voices as well as discourse about the heritage of the Ethiopian Jewish community.

In addition, the project offers participants skills to cope with challenges and crises on a personal and communal 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 activists, helping to expand their influence.


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, parliament members, who are students in 5th and 6th grade, learn about democracy, elect parliamentary official leaders, and visit the Israeli Knesset.


Tzahali’s Community Involvement Project

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

Tzahali, a program of The Yaacov Herzog Center, is the first pre-army preparatory program for Orthodox young women. Tzahali aspires to train Orthodox young women for military service, thereby raising quality, Orthodox young women, who contribute to their communities and serve as leaders. The studies in Tzahali enable Orthodox young women to formulate their inner beliefs, to learn about Israeli society in depth, and to cope with challenges that require responsibility, independence, and leadership. Through group living, the young women develop skills and abilities prior to enlisting in the army as an individual or as a group. 

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 and empowerment all while deepening their familiarity with Israeli society. 


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, which connect the 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 the 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 their participants and enable them to connect to the Hi-Tech community, while gaining 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.

Pathways to Early Childhood

Pathways to Early Childhood is an educational program of the Shafir Community Center. Early childhood is the foundation of childhood development, and Pathways 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 through workshops designed to enhance parent-child bonding and quality time. The program aspires to establish and promote valuable relationships between all caregivers surrounding the child. An additional component of Pathways 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, kindergartens, and families of children with special needs. 


Supporting Holocaust Survivors

The Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims, established by and for Holocaust survivors, helps improve the welfare and quality of life of tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors annually, expanding its circle of social impact every year. As of 2022, there are approximately 165,800 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. Around 70,000 received assistance from the Foundation. 42 Holocaust survivors pass away every day. 

The Foundation’s Supporting Holocaust Survivors project offers financial assistance tailored to the unmet personal needs of disadvantaged survivors. Assistance includes purchasing basic furniture or home appliances, paying bills to prevent cut-offs, and funding medical services to improve their quality of life. The project operates all over Israel, as well as in the Partnership region. Over 80 underprivileged Holocaust survivors living in the region receive financial assistance, allowing them to live their last years with dignity and improve their quality of life.


Healthy Lifestyle 

The Edith Falk Community Center is a hub for the educational and cultural activities of all Kiryat Gat residents. 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 while contributing to their social life. The project offers a walking group, Pilates, Tai Chi, and nutrition workshops that serve as not only physical activities, but as experiential and social activities. These programs contribute to personal empowerment and alleviate loneliness.


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 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, volunteers work with senior citizens to improve 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.


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 by integrating 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 during the 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 from Israel’s social and geographic periphery.

Educating for Excellence’s Tofsim Kivun project (“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 fruitful cooperation between local youth organizations and associations of elite military alumni, brining youth participants and volunteer mentors together. The program advocates the concept that developing tools, personal mentoring, and a professional network are necessary in paving the way to a suitable career. Tofsim Kivun participants receive all these and more, with 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, to provide mentors that accompany the young adults on their way to developing suitable and meaningful careers.



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 project provided the schools with a full mapping of every child's need and supplied a basket of therapies and interventions, which gave 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 the program with other funding sources. It was then time to build a new flagship project.

After discussions with the mayors in the region and their staff, and after researching many different needs, it was decided that the next flagship project would again support the educational system. However, this time it would focus more closely on STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and English. Thus, JUF’s STEM flagship project, Sulamot, was born. 

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 the generous support from a community leader active in the Partnership, JUF’s P2G, in conjunction with Intel Corporation and others, funded a year-long mapping process to identify gaps and needs in the region’s STEM education.

Two organizations specializing in STEM education were identified and brought together to form a unique, unified, and unprecedented partnership with the goal of designing and implementing a program in JUF’s partnership 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 created a STEM ecosystem and “language”, which encompassed teachers, students, learning spaces, and 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 project partners included 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. As the industry is currently experiencing a shortage of ten thousand qualified engineers, it will likely need an influx of workers 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

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 from the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School and the Solomon Schechter Day School in Chicago. Chicago students visit Israel 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. College-aged students from Chicago or attending school in Illinois, serve as senior counselors and work alongside junior camp counselors from the region. American counselors experience life in Israel, live with local families and connect with the other camp counselors while enjoying enrichment and fun activities.

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 day 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.

Kefiada is one of the best People-to-People programs, strengthening the "living bridge" between Chicago and Israel since 1998For 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. The goal of the program is to develop future generations of active, effective leaders with strong Jewish Identities, including a commitment to the Jewish people, respect for pluralism, and a love of Israel.

Chicago launched its first cohort in 2013 in collaboration with JUF's Partnership Together region in Israel. As part of the program, Diller teens from the Partnership region visit 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 click here .