Shared Society/Pluralism is made of a very rich but delicate fabric. It consists of immigrants and veterans; liberal and conservative; Zionists; Arab Israelis, Druze, and Jews; Ultra-Orthodox, secular, and other religious affiliates; Sephardi and Ashkenazi; and more. The very survival of Israel depends not only on security from outside threats but on the ability for these diverse groups to peacefully maintain a pluralistic, democratic society. Thus, helping encourage a shared society is a priority for Global Connections.
The Greater MetroWest Jewish community has had a long history of addressing this pressing need. Beginning in 1997, Federation embarked on this work under the leadership of then MetroWest President Murray Laulicht who established the Committee. At that time, the issue being debated was about “who is a Jew.” This debate over religious pluralism was causing division between diaspora Jews and Israeli government policy. The crisis became an opportunity and the beginning of our very important work focusing on helping to build a shared society in Israel.
Now, with 18 years of hands-on experience under our belts, we are proud of the work we continue to do to build civil society in Israel. Our diverse programs which encourage and strengthen children at risk, integrate Ethiopian Jews as full citizens, foster religious pluralism, enhance Israeli-Arab-Jewish dialogue, leverage our partnership connections, and advocate for a civil society — are making a difference.
Greater MetroWest programs in Israel have expanded, particularly in our seven partnership communities, and are primarily aimed at helping at-risk populations.
Youth Futures is a mentoring program run by the Jewish Agency for Israel for at-risk youths who live in marginal towns. We are now funding this program in five towns, encompassing a diverse population. This vital, nationwide program provides these youths with comprehensive, tailored intervention to enable them to take their place as independent, productive members of society. Youth Futures empowers disadvantaged Israeli youth from all sectors of society, providing them with an equal opportunity to develop their academic and social skills. We recently brought together all the Youth Futures mentors from our communities — Jews, Druze, and Bedouins — to discuss their common interests to help their young people succeed.
Project Atzmaut in Rishon LeZion is an exemplary program that integrates Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli Society. This initiative focuses on helping the entire family assimilate into their new environment — providing help for adults to gain employment, education for the children, and counseling to help support entire families. This program has become a model for other initiatives throughout the country.