It is a pleasure for me to add my greetings for the New Year and to present a few of the accomplishments of our city which reflect the changes that have occurred there over the past few years.
In this past year the municipality worked to improve the quality of life in all spheres of activity, and to improve the quality of service to the population. Despite the difficult financial situation in Israeli authorities in general and Ofakim's situation in particular, we were able to see progress in the field of education and a significant improvement in the students' performance on the high school matriculation examinations, as well as the development and implementation of social and educational programs, such as, moral-ethical and cultural heritage education programs, programs for the prevention of violence and drug and alcohol use among youth, programs to encourage contributions to society, etc.
In the physical sphere, the municipality invested great effort in infrastructure development and improvement, as well as generating sources of income and combating unemployment. Ofakim is experiencing a developmental surge whose like has not been seen in the past several years. There has been an increase in the construction of new schools and kindergartens, regional commercial centers, and new factories, as well as the planning of a new, more direct road to Beersheva and other endeavors projected for the future, such as: construction of a vacation and sport center, a new swimming pool and more. Entrepreneurs and government offices once again have confidence in the city of Ofakim and its residents.
Along with all of this, the city of Ofakim is ranked only in the third group, out of ten, of income per person and quality of life, which indicates a rather low average socio-economic status in the Jewish sector. The socio-economic status of the city's population together with the difficult events that the country has experienced recently, have many implications for the social situation in the city. The welfare support service needs of much of the population have increased steadily, and there has been a significant growth in the number of needy, which has led to an increase in municipality expenditures. In such a situation, it is no small struggle to develop private initiatives in the realm of culture and recreation; and in the absence of the economic means of the population to contribute to the expense of such programs, even the municipality and its institutions find it difficult to offer a variety of unsubsidized cultural activities.
Ofakim upholds the Jewish tradition of mutual responsibility and concern for one's neighbor, and many residents receive assistance from various charitable organizations, as well as the communal organizations of Metro-West. Our sincere gratitude is extended to each of those who participate in this charitable work.
In the coming year, we will continue to act to improve the service to our citizens, and to cultivate the quality of life worthy of a venerable city in Israel.
As we begin the new year, we send you our wishes that this be an enjoyable and satisfying year, in which all of your wishes and hopes are fulfilled, and in which we all merit seeing the further development of our people and our land, in peace, welfare, calm and security.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday,
Avi Asaraf-Mayor of Ofakim and Partnership Chair