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 Dimona-Yerucham and at home in our communities.
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 Initial meeting of network steering committee with our partners in Dimona and Yerucham.
1996-1998 A joint economic development unit (EDU) is established for Dimona and Yerucham. The EDU provides valuable assistance to small businesses, and aid to persuade government offices to attract new factories to the region.
1998 A volunteer leadership group is launched. Its development lasts through 2001, with 10 members from Dimona and Yerucham visiting the United States.
1999 We recognize that our partnership activities need to be expanded and refocus our efforts. • More social programs are initiated in conjunction with local community centers.
2000-2001 People-to-people ties are strengthened through multiple solidarity missions during the intifada. • Two young people from the region participate in the Maccabi games with local youngsters from York, Pennsylvania. Two Israelis now join the York Maccabi delegation each summer.
2003 A young shaliach from Dimona, Adiel Elgi, becomes the first emissary from our region to Pensacola, Florida, and strengthens ties between the two communities. Two years later, Pensacola welcomes Lior Siboni as its emissary from Dimona. Lior continues in Pensacola for another year.
2004 Programs for youth and women at the community centers enrich Dimona’s cultural life. • Our network’s P2K executive committee concentrates all efforts on the “Lunch N Learn” program, which provides an extended school day and a nourishing hot lunch for 600 at-risk schoolchildren in Dimona and Yerucham. More than 1,500 pupils, ages 6-13, have benefited.
2005 Approximately 150 people visited the region from the partnership communities in several missions, and they learned first hand about the “Lunch N Learn” program. As a result, the program was strengthened with two more major gifts. • Two young athletes from the region participated in the Maccabi games in York, Pennsylvania, continuing the yearly tradition.
A Decade of Connection
The remarkable partnership bringing together Dimona-Yerucham and the 360 member communities of the Network began in 1996.
Located south of Beer Sheva, Dimona is home to a diverse population of 40,000 reflecting multiple waves of aliyah. Yerucham is located about eight miles from Dimona on the original road to Eilat and Mitzpe Ramon. This town of 9,000, like Dimona, has struggled to accommodate waves of new immigrants and the integration of highly diverse ethnic populations. Isolated far from the center of the country, these communities struggle with some of Israel’s highest rates of unemployment. Compounding the cycle of disadvantage, the lack of equal educational opportunity.
A Decade of Mutual Impact
Our Network communities were determined to change the dynamics throughout the region.
Together, our communities developed a common fourprong agenda: education, social welfare, living bridge connections and economic development. During the first years, we focused our efforts on the economic development of the region—primarily in small business development. A critical component of our success was the establishment of a joint Economic Development Unit (EDU) to provide assistance to small businesses, as well as advocate for the government to offer incentives for new industry. It also marked the beginning of increased regional cooperation.
Our visionary partnership has contributed to social and educational development.
Our support of the Lunch N Learn program is providing an extended school day and a nourishing hot lunch for 600 at-risk schoolchildren. As a result of our collaboration with the Ministry of Education and local teachers, a revolution has literally taken place in the quality of education. Today, more than 65 percent of students from Yerucham and Dimona are successfully passing their matriculation exams—at levels high enough for advancement to higher education. Our investment in these youngsters will ultimately transform the socioeconomic reality in these communities. They are Israel’s future leaders.
We have built living bridges between our communities and Dimona-Yerucham through scores of reciprocal visits of teachers, principals, families, students and volunteers—strengthening our communities, connecting our next generation.
“I was born in the Ukraine, but Yerucham is now home. Through P2K, I traveled to the U.S. to participate in the Maccabi games. I had an amazing time. I learned about the Jewish community and learned what it means to be a Jew outside Israel. There is so much to learn from the communities in North America about their Judaism, their way of life, their community life. And they have much to learn about the multiculturalism of our community in Yerucham, with residents from so many different countries.” Pavel Gluchek
“The impact of our partnership goes far beyond the community level—each of us has the opportunity to become directly and personally involved. And when we do, when our kids spend time volunteering with new immigrants, when they make the personal connection, it changes their perspective forever. That’s really what our partnership with Israel is about: building the bridges together that will carry us into the Jewish future.” Wendy Block, JFNA Network Chair
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 Dimona and Yerucham are developing community leaders, uniting youth and exposing individuals on both sides to new perspectives on Jewish life. Promoting excellence in education and technology; attracting development; creating places where families want to live and work.
At the same time, we are innovating to connect our next generation to Israel in new ways; creating enduring connections that will shape our Jewish communities. 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.