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 26 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 FY22.

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.


Communal Justice Center

The Association for the Advancement of Community Centers in Israel (AACCI) works to encourage cultural life and educational, social and community activities through over 1,000 community centers in Israel, including in Kiryat Gat and Lachish.

The Center works to help underprivileged populations overcome barriers that prevent them from maximizing basic health and welfare rights, which promotes their economic and social rehabilitation. Over 450 residents in JUF;s Partnership region are helped each year by professional staff and volunteers.  Improving their quality of life and encouraging them to take an active part in changing their economic and social status.

Yadid Lachinuch

Yadid Lachinuch (Hebrew for “Friend of Education”) works to integrate senior citizens in voluntary educational activities in Israel’s education system.

Yadid Lachinuch’s project in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council connect senior residents of the region with the local education system. The senior citizens volunteer in schools and help bridge educational gaps and reduce violence by cultivating a sense of capability and raising students' self-esteem.

Integrating senior citizens into the education system contributes to strengthening the intergenerational connection thus increasing awareness of the value of volunteerism and the quality of life of volunteer retirees.

Yadid Lachinuch benefits all parties: the students receive individual support and guidance, the education system receives free and quality manpower and the senior citizens fill their free time with satisfaction and valued contribution to the next generation.

Enosh’s digital platform

Enosh, The Israeli Mental Health Association, runs 70 service centers for people with psychosocial disabilities and their family members. Over 900 mental health professionals and hundreds of volunteers provide support in the fields of housing and living skills, employment facilitation, social skill training, recreation and family counseling.

Enosh’s new 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 many service consumers that cannot arrive to the center itself and providing 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.

Start Up Now

Unistream, a non-profit organization, promotes innovative, entrepreneurial and technological thinking for high school students throughout Israel's periphery to reduce socioeconomic disparity and provide equal opportunities to all.

Unistream’s Start up now program trains over 2,000 youth each year in business entrepreneurship and financial literacy. The program aims to improve participants’ life quality and reduce economic and social gaps by providing employability skills, financial education, entrepreneurial tools and mindset alongside personal empowerment.

The program participants, high school students form Kiryat Gat, receive a rare opportunity to build a start-up company from scratch, mentored by business people and entrepreneurs throughout the entire program.


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 a year in which the Covid pandemic created instability in the education system and in life. The Ministry of Education’s data also indicates a sharp rise in risky behavior among youth and children following the Covid 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.


Together We Overcome

Neve Hanna Children’s Home houses over 80 children aged 6-18 that were taken out of their home 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 learn life skills and prepare for independent adult life.

Following the Covid pandemic, Neve Hanna Children’s Home needed to reinforce and widening its educational, therapeutic and enrichment programs to help its children (which are not on the same developmental level as their age peers to begin with) deal with the fallout of the pandemic. Closing education gaps, dealing with emotional scars damaging 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.


Youth Futures’ Transition Program

Youth futures, a mentorship program of the Jewish Agency for Israel, 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 transitions issues, volunteer 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 children's lives.


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 also help participants to better deal with their environment.


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 and their faculty in Kiryat Gat and Lachish Regional Council. The program aims to reduce sexual violence 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 and the content is designed to meet the teenagers’ physical and psychological development.

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 support of victims during the period of the pandemic.


Educating for Excellence

Educating for Excellence, an Israeli non-profit organization, strives to strengthen Israeli society by reducing social gaps and creating equal opportunities for children with potential for excellence who reside in Israel's social and geographic periphery. The organization helps those children reach the top and fulfill their potential by helping them to excel in their studies, acquire a broad and general education, integrate into society and develop as contributing citizens and future leaders.

Educating for Excellence operates 53 educational excellence centers nationwide, catering to over 4,600 students, grades 3rd -12th, including in Kiryat Gat. Hundreds of university students receive scholarships to serve as counselors and as positive role models for the younger students.

The program accompanies the students for a decade after which they join the alumni program. An intensive, long-term investment in each student generates social change at the individual, communal and national level.

Educating for Excellence operates an educational excellence center for elementary school students in Kiryat Gat and recently opened another center in the city for middle school students.


Values through Martial Arts

Sport for Social Change, a non-profit organization, uses traditional martial arts to connect and 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, the children in the program 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 and thus are exposed to different sectors of Israeli society. The program also includes volunteer activities to benefit the community and strengthen the participants’ connection to the wider community, instilling in them the value of giving.


The Israel Sport and Education Initiative, a non-profit organization, aims to promote and strengthen youth through educational sports programs.

Boatot (“kicking” in Hebrew), a program of the Israel Sport and Education Initiative, is a social program for girls that combines girls' soccer practice with empowerment.

Boatot was created in response to the lack of inclusion of young girls in sports in general and the shortage of girls' soccer programs in particular. Accordingly, the program aims to reduce the gender gaps in Israel’s sports.

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

Boatot runs soccer teams in schools and community centers around the country, including in the Partnership Region, which includes professional soccer training alongside social enrichment activities and regional and national tournaments.


Lifesaving Team Chicago

United Hatzalah of Israel is a fully 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. The project supports medical equipment replacement, annual training, recognition and volunteers’ support and everything else United Hatzalah’s volunteers need to continue saving lives in the Partnership Region.

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 pandemic 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.

Shaah Tova

The Shaah Tova (good hour in Hebrew) project of the Lachish Regional Council provides monthly assistance to elderly people who rarely leave their homes due to health, emotional or cognitive difficulties and therefore cannot participate in programs and activities that are offered by the council.

As part of this project professionals (such as teachers in physical education, handymen, hairdressers, beauticians etc.) arrive at the homes of 40 elderly people and assist them in improving their health and cognitive functions, as well as raising their self-esteem.


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 (age 14-18) in Israel’s social and geographic periphery.

Often, the environment in which those girls grow up does not encourage them towards making academic decisions early on in order to secure their future. They also suffer from a lack of academic female role-models, which minimizes their ambitions, 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 participant to graduate high school with a quality 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.


Alliance - Kol Israel Haverim (KIAH) is a leading educational organization in Israel. KIAH’s Morasha (Heritage) program aims to strengthen Jewish identity and translate it into social action in the school environment in order to reinforce social Jewish values in Israeli society with an emphasis on mutual respect and responsibility.

Morasha identifies how Jewish social values can be implemented in the school's daily life. Over the course of four years, Morasha empowers the educational staff to undergo a transformative process by developing and implementing original values-based educational programs to create sustainable change in the school's culture and approach.



Aharai (follow me in Hebrew) is a social and educational NGO 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 the Israeli society, the organization instills in its school-aged members a feeling of success while encouraging them to integrate as contributing citizens in Israeli society.

Aharai’s military preparation program in Kiryat Gat is designed to enhance and strengthen the willingness and motivation of young men and women between the ages of 16-18 to complete significant army service.


Theatre class for children at risk

The Kiryat Gat community center offers local children and youth at risk, age 6-16, an afterschool theater class. The classes serve as therapy and provide participants with tools to cope with complex social situations and strengthen their self-confidence. In addition, the program exposes participants and their parents to theater plays by sponsoring their tickets.

This program provides a response to the after school hours, in which children from disadvantaged families have no enrichment activities due to costs.

Basketball Ambassadors

Basketball Ambassadors, a program of the Shafir Community Center, aims to bring a sport culture to the entire Shafir region. Shafir Regional Council is home to 14 moshavim (rural communities), spread over a large area (in some cases, communities are located 12 miles apart), with different characteristics and religious affiliation. The program uses sports to bring together many of the council’s citizens.

Based on the model of a basketball club, Shafir’s Basketball Ambassadors trains youth to be basketball coaches and leaders in their own basketball teams. The program teaches not only how to play and coach basketball teams, but also instills values such as confidence, responsibility, overcoming challenges and more. Participating youth become ambassadors by leading basketball teams within their own moshavim, encouraging more people to participate and adopt a sportive lifestyle.


Ofanim’s STEM Enrichment Program

Ofanim, a non-profit organization, 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's mobile labs are retrofitted buses equipped with computers and technology. With the mobile labs visiting different communities, Ofanim works to reduce gaps among third to sixth graders in the periphery, exposing them to new worlds of science and technology, encouraging curiosity and motivating them to succeed in school and pursue a higher education in STEM fields.

Ofanim operates 11 enrichment programs in science and technology for elementary school students throughout Kiryat Gat, Shafir Regional Council and Lachish Regional Council.


Pathway to Early Childhood

Pathway to Early Childhood is an educational program of the Shafir Community Center. Early childhood years are the foundations of infants’ development, and therefore 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 infants (aged 0-3) with knowledge and workshops to enhance parent-child bonding and quality time. The program aspires to establish and promote valuable relationship between all the child’s meaningful and caring adults.

Youth Leading in the Community

Youth Leading in the Community is a strategic program of the Shafir Community Center empowering the youth of the Shafir Regional Council and connecting them to their communities.

The program trains local youth to be leaders and to contribute to their own 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 cohort of leaders in the Council.


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, ensuring all the 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 every child’s developmental stage and every family’s specific needs. Among the services offered are “mommy and me” groups, personal mentoring at the family home, parenting training, subsidized early childhood enrichment and more.

Shachar Center for Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Yachdav, a non-profit organization, 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 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.


Single Mothers Economic Advancement Program

Itworks, a non-profit organization, works to narrow employment gaps and promote diversity in Israel’s booming high-tech industry. By collaborating with tech companies wishing to benefit from a diverse workforce, Itworks helps rising talents from disenfranchised social sectors apply for open employment positions, integrate into cutting-edge organizational environments and experience on-the-job success. Single Mothers Economic Advancement Program aims to narrow income gaps and enable single mothers to support their families with dignity and financial security.

The program model is based on vocational training, soft skills training and job placement. Cohorts of the program train in a variety of fields, based on an assessment of the market needs at the time of the course.

The program was piloted in 2018, successfully trained 142 single mothers and placed 70% of them within one year. In 2020, a new cohort of 20 participants, residents of the Partnership region, was launched in Kiryat Gat.

Yael's House

Located in Neta at the Lachish Regional Council, Yael’s House is a regional social meeting place for children with special needs, their peers and their 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.

Nirim in the Neighborhood

Nirim in the Neighborhood is a community outreach program that works directly with 60 youth 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 the assimilation of the tools and values the youth need to help them turn their lives around.

The project 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 serves as Case Managers for the youth and is 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 to the Nirim in the Neighborhood program, was opened last year in Kiryat Gat. The Nirim Class model, developed with the Ministry of Education, targets returning dropout students to school and is based on the methods used by Nirim in the Neighborhood.

To learn more, take a look at JUF's impact video about NIRIM.

Ma'agalim in High School

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 School 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 their own 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, while serving as a role model for them. They motivate and empower the youth to succeed and reach their goals.


Sheltered Summer Camp

Every year during the month of August, the Shafir Regional Council provides a Sheltered Summer Camp for children in need (aged 6-10). The camp provides programming and structure that the children wouldn’t be able to access otherwise, and operates in 10 different communities throughout the Shafir Regional Council at the same time.

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.


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 needy families in the area.

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 Kiryat Gat 10 years ago with JUF seed money. Today, it is a national organization with 30 branches all over Israel.

To learn more, take a look at JUF's impact video about SAHI.

During the Covid -19 crisis SAHI is 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 were 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.


Transforming the Lives of Families In Need

Tenufa Bakehila (community rising in Hebrew) is an Israeli non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged populations overcome poverty through a holistic approach that includes repairing 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. Meanwhile, the organization's social workers help the families in building a personal rehabilitation program and accompany them in its implementation.

This comprehensive response leads the families to leave the cycle of poverty, grow and return to normal function. It leads to their integration into the community and society.

Tenufa Bakehila operates around the country, including in JUF's Partnership region, and to date has assisted over 4,500 families in need.

During the Covid -19 crisis JUF supported Tenufa Bakehila with an emergency grant, allowing the organization to provide emergency repairs and assistance for families in need in the Partnership region.

Krembo Wings- Kiryat Gat Branch

Named after a favorite Israeli seasonal candy treat that is so delicate that 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 for special needs kids in the world.

The Krembo Wings branch in Kiryat Gat meets weekly after school and brings together children and youth, aged 7-21, with special needs, matching each one with two able-bodied and specially-trained peers, aged 10-18. This allows each child to fully participate in all of the activities. Activities include group games, songs, drama and arts and crafts.

Recently Krembo Wings expanded the impact of inclusion by lowering the age limit for able- bodied children in the Kiryat Gat branch and 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 transportation to and from each session for participants 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 to provide emotional support and a sense of social belonging to all its members and their families.

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) in Kiryat Gat 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 of diversity and the complex reality of families with children with disabilities among teens.

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 the 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, to become social activists and to 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 the community. Program participants receive a rich toolbox that enables them to act, assist and actively deal with local and national emergency situations, demonstrate leadership and be proud of 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 the emergency authorities.

The project empowers the youth and gives them an important role in times of emergency, while at the same time contributing to strengthening the community and the community support infrastructure in times 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.


Mifne for Haredi Families

Be-Atzmi is an Israeli nonprofit focused on integrating and advancing socially and economically disadvantaged populations towards stable and fair employment suited to their skills and aspirations.

Mifne (turn around) for Haredi Families is an innovative holistic integration program of Be-Atzmi, geared towards a low socio-economic Ultra-Orthodox population. The program works with Ultra- Orthodox couples to integrate both the men and women into the workforce. It also provides separate workshops and individual coaching to help Haredi couples understand and manage their finances.

The goal of the program is to break the cycle of poverty for Haredi families.

During the Covid -19 crisis JUF supported Be-Atzmi with an emergency grant, allowing the organization to provide an employment helpline for Ultra-Orthodox men and women seeking work in the Partnership region.

Kefiada English Speaking Summer Camp - Kiryat Gat 

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.
Kefiada is one of the best People-to-People programs, strengthening the “living bridge” between Chicago and Israel since 1998. Information and an online application can be found at

 P2P (Living Bridge)- P2G 

Living Bridge is the Partnership’s school exchange program, which promotes people to people connections between students in Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir and Chicago.  
During the school year, the Israeli 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 local schools including the Solomon Schechter Day School. When the students from Chicago visit Israel they spend time in Kiryat Gat meeting with their Israeli friends. 


Sulamot, JUF's Partnership flagship project, 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

The first year of Sulamot has proven to be extremely successful. We received positive feedback from school principals, teachers, students, parents, heads of education departments and the mayors of the three municipalities in the Partnership region.

During the summer 2021 Sulamot was expanded from 14 participating schools in the region to a total of 21 schools, reaching 7,000 students, by securing funds from the municipalities and Israel's Ministry of Education.

With population growth in the region in part due to the completion of construction of the Karmei Gat neighborhood, we are looking forward to expanding the program to a total of 25 schools in the 2021-2022 academic year, with each school receiving one or more components of Sulamot.  

Read more about Sulamot

Watch a short video about Sulamot