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 22 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 $900,000 will be allocated to the region through JUF’s Partnership Together.  Below are the programs that received an allocation in FY18.

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. 

Families Generate Change

Families Generate Change is a grassroots program in Kiryat Gat that creates an atmosphere of entrepreneurship, creativity and action and empowers participants of all ages to develop local leadership.

Working in two specific neighborhoods in Kiryat Gat, with members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community, Hinneni forms a network of parents and children to develop social involvement, family empowerment and to strengthen parental authority.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Families Generate Change in Kiryat Gat since 2015.

The Minute Entrepreneurship Project

The Minute Entrepreneurship Project is a social start-up by Hinneni, a local grass-roots non-profit working mostly in the Ethiopian community.

The project provides 90 Ethiopian-Israeli seniors with employment in areas in which they have traditional knowledge and experience. 

Most of the activity takes place at "Atachlit – Beta Israel village“, an experiential cultural conservation center for Ethiopian immigrants and their descendants, near Kiryat Gat. The seniors share their knowledge and serve as guides for visitors wishing to learn about mud building, pottery, cooking and traditional crafts.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting the Minute Entrepreneurship Project in Kiryat Gat since 2015 and has been supporting “Atachlit – Beta Israel village” since its establishment in 2011.

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.

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.

Beshvil Hazahav - For the Gold

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 health, cognitive or mental decline. 
There are 600 elderly residents in Lachish of whom 300 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.

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.


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.



Kulanana is a national program run by Ruach Tova (“Good Spirit”) that helps bring Israeli society together by connecting different NGO’s within communities.  It creates natural connections and improves efficiencies. 
Fifteen NGO’s in the partnership have participated in a regional forum, building new bonds of understanding, common purpose, local cooperation and shared best practices that strengthen the region. 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. 

The program was received very well and as a result the local NGO’s asked to establish it as a permanent joint program. In May 2017, a second cohort was launched, with 25 representatives of 21 NGO’s from the region.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Kulanana in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2015.


Living bridge

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

During the school year, the Israeli high school students learn about the history of Israel, Israel advocacy and Jewish life in the Diaspora. They visit Chicago to learn first-hand about the Jewish community and meet with their peers form the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School and the Solomon Schechter Day School in Chicago.

The students from Chicago visit Israel as well and spend a day in Kiryat Gat meeting with their Israeli friends.

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



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.

For more information click here.


Diller Teen Fellows

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

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

For more information click here.


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 five year project was launched in the 2013-2014 school year and has expanded considerably during 2014-2017.

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. If you would like to hear more about the project’s impact please contact us.

JUF has supported Israel Children’s Zone since 2013.


Design for Change

Design for Change is a global movement that cultivates the ‘I Can’ mind-set in every child. This ‘I Can’ spirit empowers children and gives them an opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into action.

Through a simple design process of Feel-Imagine-Do-Share, Design for Change asks children to identify and transform anything that bothers them in their community – shifting their mind-set from ‘Can I?’ to ‘I Can!’. This 4-step design process develops the values of empathy, ethics and engagement.

Design for Change offers an introductory workshop to the Partnership region's school principals, community involvement coordinators and teacher training centers in the region. The second phase includes training  and accompanying the school’s teachers through the process.

Through the Partnership, JUF has been supporting Design for Change in Kiryat Gat, Lachish Regional Council and Shafir Regional Council since 2017.


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 provide 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.

Mind & Fitness

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.

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.



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.

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.


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.


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.