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Western Region Communities • Kiryat Malachi~Hof Ashkelon: Living Bridges in the Jewish Future

How do we make peoplehood tangible in our 21st century world? We’re doing it. The impressive achievements of the first ten years of our partnership demonstrate our collective force when we partner in common purpose.

Since 1996, when leaders from our community stepped forward to become part of the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 (P2K), our commitment and involvement have become a powerful catalyst for change in our communities of the Western Region and in Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon.

Today, we are one of 550 global communities in 44 partnerships with Israel. Sharing ideas, strengths, challenges and models of success, our P2K partnerships have become the paradigm for successfully partnering the Jewish world.

What Will You Make of It?

1996   Establishment of the partnership.

1997  Recruitment of volunteers begins; formation of committees in Israel and the communities.

1998  Our partnership assists ongoing projects, including Beit Zipporah and a social welfare after-school club.

1999  Our women launch the “Mother to Another” initiative for children at risk. • The steering committee visits the area and helps select the first Gesher LeKesher coordinator.

2000  Substantial increase in the number of delegations to Israel and overseas— youth, teachers, federation members and volunteers.

2001  In-depth local review of the area’s needs and refocus on youth and leadership development.

2002  First Israeli volunteer chair is elected.

2003  Kiryat Malachi faces its greatest crisis: a strike by its municipal and community center employees. The partners examine how to help and develop “a genuine partnership.” • The joint committee initiates a strategic planning process that lasts more than a year and concludes with the decision to focus on four areas of activity: Gesher LeKesher, leadership, education and social welfare.

2004  Implementation of the vision begins. Gesher LeKesher activity is extended; the budget is increased; and new projects are launched. • An apartment is designated for volunteers. • Student leadership and a youth council take responsibility for the community, joining forces in Beit Harishonim. • Numerous volunteers, youth and students are integrated in the committees. • Justice Rachel Barkai is appointed to chair the steering committee.

2005  Continuing assessment of the needs within the area leads to decision to develop a long-term plan. A more open approach to partnership is developed, strengthening mutual trust among the partners.

2006  Four of our 15 communities in the Western Region Consortium opt to move towards a new format for the partnership, leading to the implementation of the TIPS (Tucson, Israel, Palm Springs, Phoenix and Seattle) partnership. • All other communities, committed to the region, continue their support and people-to-people link

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A Decade of Connection

Our unique partnership was launched in 1996, as Kiryat Malachi was grappling with major demographic and economic challenges.

The large-scale immigration from the FSU and Ethiopia compounded problems of an already weak community. Today, new immigrants represent 40 percent of Kiryat Malachi’s population of 23,000. Unfortunately, nearly half of the population, both olim and veterans, are disadvantaged. In 1995, Hof Ashkelon, historically an agricultural region, was still contending with Israel’s national agricultural crisis, which drove many farmers out of the field and devastated many of the moshavim. Today, rural settlements are home to a population of approximately 8,500—communities facing harsh security issues as some became the landing site of rockets from the Gaza strip.

A Decade of Mutual Impact

Our visionary partnership has contributed greatly to the educational, economic and social development of the area.

One success story is our leadership development program, which builds community by empowering target populations—such as university students, women and high school teens. By giving young people the means to create and implement programs of their own, they gain the skills to make changes in their society by learning how to help themselves. Afternoon programs for disadvantaged children in Kiryat Malachi provide hot meals and help with homework in small groups. Assistance with reading comprehension, math, Hebrew, English and computers, plus social activities, is provided in a warm and supportive environment.

Throughout our partnership, we have funded programs to transform risk into possibility for youngsters.

In a holistic approach, we teach parenting skills to low-income parents and provide social workers to help them apply those skills to their often-troubled children. At the Early Childhood Center in Hof Ashkelon, our partnership supports programs for children with learning, social and emotional problems utilizing innovative programs in movement, art and animal therapy. But our dynamic partnership moves far beyond our considerable investment in these communities.

We have built living bridges between the Western Region Consortium, Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon through scores of reciprocal visits of teachers, principals, doctors, families, students and volunteers— strengthening all of our communities.

“Partnership 2000 helps us as Israelis decide eye-to-eye with our partners in the U.S. how we see the priorities in our region, and the type of programs we should consider for funding. Through the partnership, we are creating strong friendship bonds with our partners and a network of connections for our children. Despite the physical distance between our communities, we have created a family.”  Michal Ardening, elementary school teacher in Hof Ashkelon and chair of the P2P committee

“People learn, grow and understand their world through personal experiences—more than by reading or hearing. The ability to touch someone, to provide opportunities so that those at risk—on either side of the ocean—have hope and dignity as they face life challenges… What experience is better than that?”  Sandy Horwitz, past chair of Partnership 2000, Western Consortium

Together, taking our partnership to the next level

What an extraordinary impact we’ve had so far. And it’s really just the beginning. Our efforts in Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon are uniting our youth, creating community leaders and fostering professional exchanges. We’ve made important strides in accelerating the integration of new immigrants, and ensuring that their children succeed in school. And, we’re helping children at risk while creating stronger families.

At the same time, we are innovating to connect our next generation to Israel in new ways; creating enduring connections that will shape the future of Jewish communities in the Western Region. A decade ago, our communities boldly grasped this opportunity to make a dramatic difference as one people. Now we’re ready to take this partnership to the next level.

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Wednesday 23 April, 2014 (c) All rights reserved to the Jewish Agency יום רביעי כ"ג ניסן תשע"ד