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 1995, 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 Atlanta, St. Louis and Yokneam-Meggido.
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 Our partnership establishes the Economic Development Unit (EDU) in Yokneam-Megiddo, which generates dozens of new jobs by offering business courses and loans for budding entrepreneurs.
1997 P2K funding enables Yokneam’s Science Center for kindergartens to extend activities to first and second graders. This prompts a focus on science education and the establishment of three innovative facilities in the region’s elementary schools: an ecological bubble, a math lab and a science lab.
1998 Exchange visits start to become routine. By yearend, 750 people from St. Louis and Atlanta have visited Yokneam-Megiddo. • Nine school principals from Yokneam-Megiddo meet their counterparts in St. Louis and Atlanta. • Six Yokneam-Megiddo athletes take part in JCC Maccabi regional games representing St. Louis and Atlanta.
1999 P2K starts expanding circles of involvement. We establish the Living Bridge program and increase efforts to encourage volunteerism in Yokneam-Megiddo.
2000 Program to integrate Ethiopian immigrants is introduced, with primary emphasis on educational opportunities for children and youth.
2001 A new intergenerational program helps empower Yokneam-Megiddo’s elderly population.
2002 As the Intifada escalates, Yokneam-Megiddo—a 10-minute drive from Jenin—finds itself on the frontline with suicide bombings disrupting life in the region. • The St. Louis and Atlanta communities show their solidarity by acquiring patrol vehicles, building security fencing, and providing hunger relief for the region’s poorest.
2003 With Russianspeaking and Ethiopian immigrants successfully integrated, our partnership approves a program to take in 10 Argentinean families.
2004 Israel’s Ministry of Education selects the Yokneam education system as a candidate for its Northern Region prize. The city’s schools and kindergartens are recognized from among 63 municipalities and regional councils.
2005 While dozens of Israeli municipalities refuse to accept Ethiopian newcomers, Yokneam continues to volunteer to take in more Ethiopian immigrants.
A Decade of Connection
Following the union of Yokneam Illit and the Megiddo Regional Council in 1995, our Jewish communities of Atlanta and St. Louis joined them in a remarkable fourway partnership.
Our collective mission was twofold: Help strengthen and improve the quality of life in Yokneam-Megiddo, while building opportunities for meaningful relationships with Israelis. At the time, Yokneam, located about 13 miles south of Haifa, was one of the country’s most disadvantaged development towns. Yet even with the local economy struggling, Yokneam was aggressively reaching out to immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Argentina. The communities in the surrounding Megiddo region, on the southern slopes of Mount Carmel and the Jezreel Valley were also in crisis.
A Decade of Mutual Impact
Our visionary partnership has contributed greatly to the educational, economic and social development of the area.
A transformation began with Yokneam Illit’s designation as a national priority area offering benefits which enticed more than 100 dynamic companies to locate in the area. The region’s economic base now revolves around communications, software, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Attracting young middle-class couples seeking affordable housing and a high quality of life. Important joint efforts are also underway to stem the departure of young people from the area through moshav expansion and development of attractive employment at the kibbutzim. Small business enterprises are springing up all over.
Through Partnership 2000, we have provided the resources to create educational opportunities for newcomers and veteran residents alike.
With the large influx of new immigrants, we have focused on providing equal educational opportunities to help assure successful integration. Teachers and other educators from our communities meet and identify subjects of common interest. Our young people regularly volunteer with children in the region.
We have built living bridges between Yokneam-Megiddo, Atlanta and St. Louis through scores of reciprocal visits of teachers, principals, families, students and volunteers— strengthening all of our communities.
“At the end of the day, Partnership 2000 is about personal relations and friendships. There is no substitute for actually knowing each other, and through that you understand Israel and we understand American Jewry.” Gila Yaakov, Living Bridge chair, Yokneam-Megiddo
“Through Partnership 2000, we’ve found meaningful ways to strengthen the bonds between communities that are separated by geography but share a common vision. We’ve worked together to improve the area’s social, economic and cultural conditions. Just this year, P2K funding helped Yokneam win Israel’s national prize for Excellence in Education. We are enormously proud of this achievement—and all that we’ve accomplished together. In fact, we’ve become more than partners, we’ve become family.” Leslie Litwack, St. Louis Partnership 2000 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. While Yokneam-Megiddo’s recent growth comes with challenges, we continue efforts to improve the quality of life, helping build an enlightened, tolerant society: promoting excellence in education; 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 the future of our Jewish communities in Atlanta and St. Louis. 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.