(Raaya and Nadav showing us where Kiryat Malachi is located in Israel)
As a participating city in Partnership 2000, the Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach commits to making a difference in the region through funds, volunteers, and visitors. In 1996, when the partnership began, Kiryat Malachi was grappling with major demographic and economic challenges. The large scale immigration from the FSU and Ethiopia compounded problems in an already weak community. Currently, new immigrants are 40% of Kiryat Malachi's total population of 24,000.
Nearly half of the population in Kiryat Malachi is disadvantaged and the small town faces security issues from rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip.
Our partnership with the region has contributed greatly to the educational, economic, and social development of the area. Our efforts are uniting youth, creating community leaders, and fostering professional exchanges.
We support many different programs in Kiryat Malachi. One program in particular is called People-to-People. This program enables us here in Long Beach to really connect with the people in Kiryat Malachi. It facilitates exchanges with community members. Over the past two weeks, we have had two visitors, Nadav and Raaya. They helped lead the Yom Ha'atzmaut Israeli Independence Day Community Celebration, they visited synagogues, helped promote Israel on CSULB's campus, and spent time with students at the Hebrew Academy and the Alpert JCC's Early Childhood Education program.
(Nadav and Raaya singing David Melech Israel with the ECE)
Raaya is a student at Achva college. She gets a scholarship for her studies from money that the Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach Annual Campaign raises and donates to the Partnership 2000 program. In return, she volunteers in Kiryat Malachi at the Lighthouse after-school program tutoring and teaching students that need extra help in English, Math, and other subjects. She lives in Kiryat Malachi with her parents and 5 brothers and sisters.
Nadav is currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces in a training program for commanding officers. He studies part time at Bar Ilan University and part time with the army to learn how to be a company commander. Nadav has been in the army serving the land of Israel for 5 years already and plans to continue his service for years to come. Nadav was raised and still lives in Kiryat Malachi with his parents. Nadav has actually been to Long Beach before, as part of the Maccabi games Basketball delegation from Long Beach 10 years ago.