Until now, any entity that treats children or youth in distress could apply for funds raised through the Yomtov telethon. Keshet appointed a committee that included organizational consultants, educators and reporters who covered welfare, and the committee distributed the donations to various charitable organizations.
This year, Keshet has decided to transfer all the telethon donations to the Jewish Agency, which will then distribute the money to entities that treat at-risk children and youth. The decision means that charities or entities not associated with the Jewish Agency will not have access to the funds.
The bodies that get the funds will all be associated with the Jewish Agency, which will also determine where the donations go.
One senior official at a nonprofit organization that handles at-risk children and has been funded by Yomtov in the past, said, "It is a pity that Keshet is putting all the Yomtov eggs in a single basket that operates a few programs. Why can't the Jewish Agency, which is failing to bring in donations abroad, compete for the Yomtov funds like any other organization? If Keshet has decided to make Yomtov a telethon for the Jewish Agency, I believe the public should be informed, instead of hiding the facts behind a successful television brand name. I don't understand why Keshet is granting a monopoly to a single organization and not distributing its social investment as it has done in the past."
In response Keshet stated, "Every year we examine the Yomtov operation and the process of directing the donations. This year, after learning the lessons of previous telethons, it was decided to contact a single professional body that specializes in this area, as is the norm at other social welfare ventures. The funds will be screened by a public committee to determine which of the entities that operate under the Jewish Agency and Israeli Spirit (a Jewish Agency venture - A.T.) are actively involved in handling thousands of at-risk children and youth nationwide and operate a variety of programs such as Neta, Partnership 2000, Youth Futures and youth villages all over Israel."
The Marker examined the definitions of the ventures mentioned by Keshet on the Jewish Agency Web site and found that Partnership 2000 "has become the paradigm for successfully partnering global Jewish communities directly with Israeli communities - the majority of which are in national priority areas." The site explains that Project Neta's aim "is bridging the digital divide - to train youth in the periphery of Israel for high-tech professions."
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