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 23 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 FY19.


Youth Leadership Program

Lachish’s youth leadership program aims to group the region representatives to be active partners in decisions relating to the needs of the region and leisure culture. 
Due to a lack of a regional high school, the youth leadership program gathers in one place youth from a variety of the multi-cultural communities in the Lachish Regional Council. This structure allows them to get to know each other and the region’s needs as well as to explore topics in leadership, Jewish identity, social justice and Israel. Based on the needs, participants create social events and programs for the youth in the Lachish region.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the youth leadership program in the Lachish Regional Council since 2017.



Meshalvim (integrate in Hebrew) is a program of Bat Ami which enables young adults with disabilities, aged 18-25, to serve in National Service. The service allows them to be productive members of society and for society to see them that way. National Service is an alternative to military service in Israel. The program provides participants with skills and values ​​and serves as a bridge to the world of employment, education and a profession. The participants, encouraged to select the volunteer setting that best matches their aspirations and abilities, experience equal opportunities, meaningful service and integration into society. At the end of the year of service, the participants are entitled to all the benefits and rights of discharged IDF soldiers. Meshalvim operates throughout Israel as well as in JUF’s Partnership region. Participants from the Partnership region are residents of Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council. They volunteer in a variety of organizations in the community for one year and thus contribute to changing the view of society towards people with disabilities.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Bat Ami’s Meshalvim program in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2018.


Mifne for Ultra-Orthodox 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. 


JUF has been supporting Mifne for Haredi Families in three locations in Israel. Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the program in Kiryat Gat since 2016. Through the Breakthrough Fund, JUF has been supporting the program in Migdal Haemek and Ashdod since 2017. 


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 within 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 40 Educational Excellence Centers nationwide, catering to over 2,500 students, grades 3rd -12th. Over 800 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 levels. An Educational Excellence Center is planned to open in Kiryat Gat in November 2018. 50 students from Kiryat Gat, grades 3rd -5th, are expected to join the center in the first year.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Educating for Excellence’s center in Kiryat Gat since 2018.

Etgarim’s Summer Camp

Etgarim (challenges in Hebrew) is an Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities through outdoor sports.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been a long-time supporter of Etgarim in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council. It supports Etgarim’s summer camp since 2018.


With You -Working with Ultra-Orthodox Girls at Risk

With You offers a social, emotional and instrumental response to at-risk ultra-Orthodox girls and young women. The project provides support from a significant adult figure helping participants to maintain a functioning and normative life framework.

With You also provides individual and long-term accompaniment to girls at extreme risk until they are relieved from their extreme situation.The program is based on work within the Ultra-Orthodox community in full partnership with the local Rabbis and leaders. The program’s staff are also members of the Ultra-Orthodox community. With you is a project by Elem, a national organization that initiates, develops and operates a variety of programs for prevention, outreach and treatment of youth at risk. 


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Elem’s With You program in the Kiryat Gat since 2017.


Enosh- A Health Promotion Program

Enosh, The Israeli Mental Health Association, runs more than 60 service centers for people with mental health disabilities and their family members. Over 700 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. Mind & Fitness is Enosh’s innovative rehabilitative approach to promote a healthy lifestyle among people with mental health disabilities in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council. Mind & Fitness offers a holistic approach to mental health rehabilitation. It focuses on three components: physical activities; workshops and monthly lectures on healthy living; and mindfulness-enhancing activities. The program is tailored to each participant’s needs and therefore allows participants to lead a healthy lifestyle while reducing their likelihood to develop diseases.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Enosh’s Mind & Fitness program in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2017.


Etgarim- Empowerment and Integration of People with Disabilities through Sports

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 based 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. One of Etgarim’s projects is running groups all over Israel. The running groups train for the long distance and include people with various types of disabilities, together with volunteers without disabilities who accompany them throughout the year. The groups meet on a weekly basis and give the participants a sense of belonging and capability, strengthen their confidence and provide a healthy and social framework. Participants take part in races throughout the year, breaking down existing beliefs about the capabilities of people with disabilities. Etgarim will establish a new running group in JUF’s partnership region, which will include about 40 participants, half of whom are disabled and half are volunteers. The participants, residents of Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council, will meet regularly and will train together.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been a long-time supporter of Etgarim in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council. It supports Etgarim’s running group for adults with disabilities since 2018.


Mesoso- Strengthening Ethiopian-Israeli Communities

Through the Partnership, JUF has been a long-time supporter of Hinneni in Kiryat Gat. It supports Hinneni’s Mesoso project since 2018.


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 27 children, aged 7-21, with special needs, matching each one with two able-bodied and specially-trained peers, aged 13-18. This allows each child to fully participate in all of the activities.  Activities include group games, songs, drama and arts and crafts. 
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. Krembo Wings also has a new pre-army service year program in Kiryat Gat. 6 pre-army volunteers from around Israel live in a commune in Kiryat Gat and volunteer in different programs in the city.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Kiryat Gat Branch of Krembo Wings since 2014 and the commune since 2016.


Bishvil Hazahav

Beshvil Hazahav (For the Gold) creates volunteer opportunities for residents of the Lachish Regional Council working with elderly residents who are considered at-risk due to their physical health, or cognitive/mental decline. There are 600 elderly residents in Lachish, 300 of whom are considered at-risk. All suffer from social loneliness. The volunteers are residents of the Lachish Regional Council with a wide range of ages and professions, and include anyone who is prepared to invest efforts in this important goal.  The volunteers engage with the elderly in many activities which give them a sense of belonging and improve their quality of life.
Some programs are conducted with adolescents, mainly on Jewish holidays, and in some cases they receive physical help, such as repairing items in their homes or providing basic equipment.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Beshvil Hazahav in the Lachish Regional Council since 2016.


Maslan – Let’s Talk About It

Maslan is the Negev’s sexual assault and domestic violence support center. Let’s Talk About It is Maslan’s educational project that aims to combat violence in general and sexual violence in particular. The project uses psycho-educational workshops for educators, teens and children in both formal and informal education settings.   

The workshops are built and tailored to suit the age, gender and cultural characteristics of participants and operates in Kiryat Gat.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Let’s Talk About It in Kiryat Gat since 2016.


Connected to Youth

There are seven community centers in the Shafir Regional Council where at-risk youth gather to participate in social events, academic tutoring, anti-violence activities and more. Connected to Youth is part of a strategic plan to empower youth in the region. It is jointly implemented by various departments and organizations in the area.

The counselors are trained to work with the Orthodox youth that make up the Shafir community and provide proper tools to cope with their needs.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Connected to Youth in the Shafir Regional Council since 2015.


Sheltered Summer Camps

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 have otherwise. The camp counselors are youth at risk that take part in the  Connected to Youth program, also supported by JUF.  In this way, the camp provides solutions to at-risk teens by training them to be responsible for younger children, while also proving a safe and nurturing camp experience for young children in need.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Sheltered Summer Camps in the Shafir Regional Council since 2015.



The Shafiriyada is a community project that uses sports as a vehicle to bridge the gaps between the region’s different communities and to create shared pride and a sense of belonging among the citizens of the Shafir Regional Council.The Shafiriyada is a community-wide sport event that will involve 5,000 people of different communities and ages in sports activities.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Shafiriyada in the Lachich Regional Council since 2017.


Cyberbullying Prevention Training

The cyberbullying prevention training is a program for teachers, students and parents in the Partnership region by Matzmichim, an Israeli violence reduction organization.

As part of Matzmichim’s cyberbullying prevention training, school professionals learn about the unique features and impact of cyberbullying (particularly how the internet accelerates cruelty) and are introduced to intervention strategies, which they are able to observe in action through student workshops. The workshops constitute the practical training component of the program and demonstrate techniques such as mobilizing the silent majority and enhancing positive forces within the classroom. The workshops also serve to develop students' social-emotional skills that lead to positive behavior among classmates. 
In addition, parents attend lectures that encourage them to promote their children's ethical use of technology on and off campus. Educators receive support resources (lesson plans and ongoing guidance) to further reinforce program learning.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Matzmichim’s cyberbullying prevention training in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2017.


Connecting the Community

Located at the Lachish Regional Council, the Meitarim Lachish pre-army program is a co-educational, religiously, ethnically, and socio-economically pluralistic gap year leadership training program for Israeli high school graduates.
This unique program combines intensive studies in Jewish identity, Zionism, Diaspora Jewry, Israeli society and philosophy with coursework in the arts and environmentalism, as well as independent study.

Meitarim’s connecting the community brings the gap year participants into the community, both urban and rural, in order to connect, learn and strengthen it by volunteering with vulnerable populations and in the Lachish region and Kiryat Gat.

Many of connecting the community’s volunteering projects are supported by JUF through the Partnership, thereby enlarging the impact in the region.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Meitarim’s connecting the community in Kiryat Gat and the Lachish Regional Council since 2017.


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.

Over the years, JUF has been supporting Natal at times of emergency in Israel. Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Natal's Youth Leadership Training for Crisis Response since 2018.

Joint Jewish-Muslim Theater

The Joint Jewish-Muslim theater group was founded in 2006 at the Neve Hanna children’s home in Kiryat Gat.

There are 35 new participants at the theater group each year: the Jewish children reside at Neve Hanna or attend one of our daycare centers; The Arab children are of Muslim-Bedouin background from the city of Rahat attending the “Path to Peace” daycare center of Neve Hanna. The theater group has weekly rehearsals serving both as a individual therapy and personal development tool (exploring hidden talents, experiencing success, strengthening self-confidence etc.), as well as bridging cultural differences of the ethnic-religious group, strengthening the group consolidation and conveying a message as Ambassadors of Peace.

The Joint Jewish-Muslim theater group is planning to perform a play and use it to promote coexistence through bilingual programming (Hebrew and Arabic) and exposure to multi-cultural contents.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been a long time supporter of Neve Hanna in Kiryat Gat.


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.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Nirim in the Neighborhood in Kiryat Gat since 2013.


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 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.

This year’s allocation to SAHI is directed to girls within SAHI and developing special programming for this cohort.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting SAHI in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since its establishment in 2009.


Faluga Pocket

  1. In December 1948, the Alexandroni Brigade received an order to attack the Egyptian army in the Faluga Pocket. The operation ended in failure and the death of 87 soldiers, after the entire Company C of the Alexandroni Battalion 33, was encircled and destroyed.  This was the battle with the highest number of casualties in the war. Most of the casualties were new immigrants, some of whom were Holocaust survivors. The tragic story of this company, also named the Company of God, is unknown to many. Orot Ha’Kirya is a Torah center dedicated to social action and involvement on a voluntary basis in the fields of education and welfare in Kiryat Gat. It strives to give the Faluga Pocket battle its proper place in history and conduct educational tours and seminars in order to raise awareness of the heroic story of this company.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Orot Ha’kirya’s Faluga Pocket project in Kiryat Gat since 2018.


Aviator Club - Ramon Foundation

The Aviator Club is a two-year leadership program for 20 children in elementary and middle schools. A squadron from the Israeli Air Force adopts a school in Kiryat Gat and accompanies the children, alongside professional instructors from the Ramon Foundation through different activities over two years. The program empowers the children and leads them to strengthen their self-esteem, confidence, personal responsibility, leadership skills and confidence in their abilities. The program has won an award from the Education Ministry and awarded the Air Force with the Chief of Staff’s award. The Ramon Foundation was established by Rona Ramon, widow of Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon.  


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Aviator Club in Kiryat Gat since 2016.


Tefnufa Bakehila- 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 and to date has assisted over 4,500 families in need. In 2018 the organization aims to assist some 70 additional families living in JUF’s Partnership region.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Tenufa Bakehila’s operation in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2018.

Instrumental Enrichment

The Feuerstein Institute is an international education, treatment and research center. The Institute is home to a groundbreaking learning method which is used in educational settings and clinical practice. The Feuerstein method teaches the important skill of learning how to learn. Its unique educational technique combines specially designed instruments and mediation in order to identify and enhance an individual's learning potential. As a result, the learner gains the knowledge and tools required to reach beyond their manifest abilities. As part of an instrumental enrichment project, training is conducted for educational teams and students in schools in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council. The project strives to significantly improve students’ achievements and sense of capability.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Feuerstein Institute’s Instrumental Enrichment project in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2018.

The Equalizer

The Equalizer is a social project that strives to provide an educational, social and athletic framework for children and youth from Israel’s social periphery.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Israel Sport and Education Initiative’s

Equalizer in Kiryat Gat and Lachish Regional Council since 2018.


Municipal Children’s Parliament

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 Kiryat Gat 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.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Municipal Children’s Parliament in Kiryat Gat since 2018.


Start Up Now

Unistream is a non-profit organization that aims to increase social and economic mobility in Israel by introducing underprivileged Israeli teens to the business world.

Unistream’s Start-Up Now is an annual program designed to combine business entrepreneurship, technology, leadership and social entrepreneurship. 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, accompanied by business people and entrepreneurs throughout the entire program.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Unistream’s Start-Up Now in Kiryat Gat since 2017.


Robotics Course

Established in 2012, YOU-niversity Center for Excellence in Science and Technology offers a wide range of enrichment classes for children and teens in Kiryat Gat. YOU-niversity Centers for Excellence in Science and Technology is a project of World ORT (Kadima Mada).  
Robotics is one of the most popular courses, which runs in cooperation with Youth Futures program, the Education Department in the Municipality of Kiryat Gat and the city's elementary and secondary schools. The program exposes young students of disadvantaged backgrounds to real world engineering challenges, by building an autonomous robot to perform specific tasks. Under the guidance of counselors and with the help of their peers, the students learn about real world problems, contributing to the community and gaining opportunity to participate in regional, national and international competitions. 

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Robotics Courses in Kiryat Gat since 2014.


Tzahali’s Community Involvement Project

Tzahali is the first pre-army preparatory program for Orthodox young women. Tzahali aspires to train Orthodox young women for military service and thereby to raise quality Orthodox young women, that contribute to their communities and serves as leaders.  The studies in Tzahali enable the 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. Its 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 seniors and families with children with special needs. 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.

In cooperation with the Kiryat Gat Municipality's Welfare and Social Services Department, Tzahli locates the seniors and families in which the young women help every week. They also initiate community events and special projects during the year.

Over the years, JUF has been supporting Tzahali. Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Tzahali’s Community Involvement project in Kiryat Gat in 2018.


Senior Corps of Expert Volunteers

Yedid is a non-profit organization aiming to empower Israelis to become self-sufficient and civically engaged members of society. 

Yedid’s senior corps of expert volunteers promotes engagement of seniors as a welcome community resource to low income seniors including holocaust survivors living in the Kiryat Gat area. Through this pilot program Yedid trains 15 seniors and retired volunteers to assist other seniors with poverty-related issues. They provide quality, consistent and accessible information and bridge the knowledge gap on seniors rights-related issues and obtaining needed benefits.

Yedid’s senior corps of expert volunteers promotes volunteerism and civic engagement and serves as a case study to Yedid’s other 15 citizens rights centers throughout Israel.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Yedid’s senior corps of expert volunteers in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2017.


Hoops for Kids - Maccabi Kiryat Gat
Hoops for Kids is an afterschool program. Professional basketball players from the Kiryat Gat team volunteer as basketball coaches for 200 at-risk youth from the city. Each volunteer coaches 15-20 youth. In addition to structured afternoon programming, youth are able to learn from professional basketball players. The players, who play for Maccabi Kiryat Gat, are able to connect and give back to the community they represent on the basketball court. The team builds a strong fan base and goodwill in the community. 


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Maccabi Kiryat Gat - Hoops for Kids in Kiryat Gat since 2016.


Regional NGO's Forum

Merchavim (wide open spaces in Hebrew) is an Israeli nonprofit that works to help citizens from different backgrounds learn about the ‘other’, value the differences, develop a shared civic consciousness and make their communities fairer. Merchavim’s shared citizenship model is the conceptual basis of the organization's programing. It offers a common language that enables to identify areas of agreement, values ​​and interests between different groups and identities in Israeli society. Under the guidance of Merchavim, and in cooperation with JUF’s Partnership, a regional NGO's forum is being held since 2015. Representatives of NGO's in the Partnership region have participated in the regional forum, building new bonds of understanding, common purposes, local cooperation and shared best practices that strengthen the region.
Some of the NGO’s in the forum, but not all of them, were previously supported or are currently supported by the Jewish Federation of Chicago. The program connects otherwise-unaffiliated organizations in new and creative ways that allow cross-pollination as well as economies of scale and a greater impact. One example is between an NGO that works with Ethiopian-Israeli youth and another that works with older Ethiopian-Israelis.  

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Regional NGO's Forum in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2015.


Israel Children’s Zone

Israel Children’s Zone is the flagship educational intervention program developed by Israeli education experts in cooperation with JUF’s Israel team. It incorporates existing national programs such as Revadim, Youth Futures, Etgarim and Morasha which provide a variety of interventions based on the needs of the students. The project operates in the entire elementary school system in the Partnership region, encompassing 17 schools and over 6,500 students in grades one through six.

The Project, spearheaded by the Israel Office and the Partnership, brings together an unprecedented number of stakeholders for a comprehensive school reform program, including Government Ministries, local authorities, a number of non-profit organizations as well as private business funding in order to heavily leverage JUF dollars.

This flagship project was launched in the 2013-2014 school year and has expanded considerably during 2014-2017.  It is now in a 6th, and final year of funding.

The results are excellent: according to an independent evaluator there has been significant improvement in the academic achievements and in students’ behavior and functioning, with emphasis placed on emotional support. The project led to a substantial change in the schools’ pedagogic-didactic response and tools.   A study is currently being conducted on the next flagship program that will support STEM education in the region.


JUF has supported Israel Children’s Zone since 2013.



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.


Living Bridge

Living bridge is the Partnership’s school exchange program, which promotes people to people connections between students in Kiryat Gat 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 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.


Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Living bridge for over a decade.