The Jewish Federation of the Desert has a long and rich history of taking on special “overseas” projects in Israel. It has enhanced this commitment with the dedication of a number of very special endeavors in the Negev region of the country. While the Negev amounts to more than 60% of Israel’s land mass, it is home to no more than 20% of Israel’s population. Our Federation aims to change those numbers.
The Jewish community of the Desert Area, has made a commitment to partner with Israelis in building a more democratic, pluralistic and just Israel.
Jewish communities abroad, and locally, continue to face economic hardship, isolation, anti-Semitism, and social welfare needs, particularly amongst the elderly. These communities look to the more affluent and secure Jewish Diaspora communities for support and relief in helping them sustain their populations according to the values of our people.
Here in the Desert Area, we are working to build a more meaningful, mature relationship with Israel, and to grow our support for global Jewish communities in need.
HOW WE ADDRESS IT
By providing inspiration, expertise and financial resources, Fed enables Jews from the Desert Area, Israel and Diaspora communities around the world to become more knowledgeable about, supportive of, and deeply engaged with one another. We strengthen Jewish identity and Jewish life by:
Our Israel Education Initiative seeks to strengthen Jewish identity among Jewish students in the Desert Area and develop a sense of common Jewish destiny among students in both the Desert Area and Israel.
INVESTING IN ISRAEL
Civil Society and Equality of Opportunity: Supporting and Empowering Israel’s Most Vulnerable Populations. Developing a civil society and ensuring that all of Israel’s citizens, veteran Israelis and newcomers, children growing up in large cities in the center of the country and those growing up in disadvantaged peripheral areas—have equal opportunities to realize their potential, succeed, and find their place in Israeli society.
Jewish Identity and Pluralism:
Reconnecting Secular Israelis to their Jewish Identity and Promoting Jewish Pluralism.
CONNECTING THE DESERT AREA TO ISRAEL
We support a wide range of programs geared toward youth and adults that seek to enhance their “Israel experience” and Jewish identity in a myriad of ways: long-term and short-term travel programs; bringing Israeli arts and culture to the Desert Area representatives sent by the JAFI (Jewish Agency in Israel), and Israel programming on our local university campus (UC Riverside).
IN THE NEGEV AREA IN ISRAEL
RAMAT. NEGEV, ISRAEL
Desert Agro Research Center
The Federation was the recipient of a generous bequest of $500,000 from the estate of Henry and Munzika Shweid. It provided the financial resources to dedicate the Desert Agro-Research Center in Ramat Negev, Israel in their memory and honor. The Center serves as a resource not only for agricultural research and the expansion of the regional crops to European markets, but also as a cultural center for the local regional council. It has already become the hub of activity for the area.
Also in the Negev region of Israel just outside of Beer Sheva, our Federation built a Day Care Center in the newly established settlement of Givot Bar, with funds both from the Shweid Estate and the Federation (total of $500,000).
This exciting community of young Zionist families, who have come to settle the Negev, is the product of an organization called the OR MOVEMENT. OR comes from the Hebrew word meaning “light” and was established by three young Israeli soldiers who finished their army service and decided to dedicate their lives to building their homeland.
GIVOT BAR. NEGEV, ISRAEL
Day Care Center
BE'ER SHEVA OLD CITY. NEGEV, ISRAEL
First Home in the Homeland
Federation also renewed the grants it provided for two new projects in the Negev region - $250,000 for a project run by the Jewish Agency called First Home in the Homeland and $250,000 to the OR Movement for its Be’er Sheva Old City Renewal Project. The first project helps new immigrants to Israel gain their initial footing in the country. The later project will develop an information and referral center in the heart of the City’s ancient quarter.