As the new year begins we are pleased to present you with a summary report for the projects which the Partnership operated during this past year. This is our first attempt to bring you this type of report, which is presented more experientially and includes pictures.
All of us hope that this report will strengthen both the involvement of all partners in the projects operated by the Partnership, and the dialogue and bond among those partners.
This past year has not been a simple one both on the national level, because of the war in the north, and on the regional level, due to the unusual economic and social problems which afflicted the area. We all hope that peace will prevail in our region and that a solution to the dangers that threaten our country will be found during the course of this year.
As far as the Partnership goes, there were a number of personnel changes this year: Ran Juhl was selected to serve as the new director of the Ofakim community center, while Yigal Shrim, the director of the Merhavim regional community center, has completed his term in that position, and recently the selection process for his replacement was initiated. It should be noted that this year the Ofakim community center adopted an economic recovery program; it is working on an emergency format, and is almost exclusively performing the Partnership's programs.
This year we also experienced a tragic event when Itzik Peretz, the director of Partnership 2000's March for several years now, was killed in a traffic accident. Our intention is to dedicate this year's Partnership 2000 March both to the first decade of the Partnership's activity, and to the memory of Itzik Peretz.
During the past year we implemented some major strategic moves. We established two forums in the form of subcommittees within the Partnership composed exclusively of volunteers: an Education Subcommittee chaired by Dalia Yosef, and a Living Bridge subcommittee chaired by Rafi Twizzer with the assistance of Living Bridge coordinator Cochi Abuharon. Subcommittees for these areas were also established in Metro-West, and the challenge presented to us this year is to formalize the communication between the subcommittees overseas and their counterparts and the parties who operate the programs in Israel. During this past year we began operating the "Youth Futures" program of the Jewish Agency in Ofakim, and this year it will continue to operate with a wider scope and with emphasis upon leadership training for people from the local community to provide a cadre of trained leaders for the community's future leadership. The effort which we invested in upgrading the program for student leadership was also aimed toward this goal, and toward retaining the best of Ofakim's youth in the community.
In the sphere of Living Bridge as well there was a breakthrough this year. As a result of the successful visit of a sheriffs' delegation from Metro-West, a delegation of policemen from the area paid a reciprocal visit to that community. Additionally, the scope of the cooperation between the Merhavim high school and the Solomon Schechter high school has increased. We have switched to a four year format which will be formalized during the course of this coming year. In this cooperative venture, students from the Merhavim high school will pay a reciprocal visit to the American community this year for the first time. This is also the second year in which a Shinshin was selected from the Merhavim area to represent us for a year in the Metro-West community, and we all hope that this tradition of shlichim from the area going for a year of service to the Metro-West community will continue.
This past year we began a joint pilot project of the Academy of Music in Jerusalem, the Perach Mentoring Project and the music schools at Ofakim and Merhavim. This pilot project proved successful; aside from strengthening local ensembles, the high point of this activity was a day of workshops in Jerusalem with students and instructors at the Academy of Music and cooperative concerts together with students from Ofakim and Merhavim. This successful pilot will continue as a full-fledged project in the coming year.
In summary, despite all of the difficulties, which we experienced during this past year both on the national level, and on the regional level, this booklet presents broad-ranging accomplishments of which we all can be proud.
This booklet is the fruit of the cooperative labor of the team at the Partnership Office and the parties who implement the projects. We hope that you will enjoy reading it.
Wishing all of us a good and productive year,