Negev Operations develops our vibrant partnerships within this desert region in the southern part of Israel. For the past 20 years, Greater MetroWest has been the lead Federation in helping to make the desert bloom the Negev. Through Negev, we are strengthening our community partnerships in the region, including Ofakim/Merchavim, Arad, and Kibbutz Erez; maintaining capital projects to further economic development in the region; monitoring social service programs we support; and much more.
“In 1955 David Ben Gurion challenged the people of Israel to develop the Negev and make it flourish, and we have taken that challenge seriously.”
Following Ben Gurion’s dream to make the desert bloom, Greater MetroWest NJ is currently the leading Diaspora community in developing the Negev, with a myriad of operations, partnerships, and activities in the region.
Our Partners in the Negev
Arad is located on the border of the Negev and Judean Deserts, near the Dead Sea. The city is home to a diverse population of about 28,000 people that includes Ashkenazim and Sephardim, secular and religious, Russians, Ethiopians, and Bedouins, as well as native-born Israelis. The New Jersey/Arad Partnership (P2G) encourages and fosters enduring relationships between and among Jewish communities by funding an array of programs locally and in Israel that all have a “living bridge” component connecting the two. Areas of funding include the environment and education; economic development and population growth; arts and culture; talented youth; and programs that connect Arad and New Jersey.
Kibbutz Erez, with about 500 residents, is located on the Gaza border in the northern Negev. Since the beginning of the Second Intifada, the region has become a target for terrorists and hundreds of kassam rocket attacks. Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ’s special relationship with Kibbutz Erez is a result of the continuing difficult security situation in Israel and of Federation’s desire to assist communities on the front line. Projects funded in cooperation with the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council include refurbishment of bomb shelters; construction of a safe room (a concrete reinforced, seal-able room) attached to one of the children’s houses and its renovation (Beit Shir); creation of an attractive children’s play area adjacent to the safe room; renovation and reinforcement of the kibbutz’s medical clinic with a generous donation from a MetroWest community family; donation of an emergency generator; and donation of an intensive care ambulance to serve the region through a donation from a MetroWest community family.
Ofakim/Merhavim is a development city of 28,000 in the northern Negev; about mid-way between Beersheva and Gaza. The Merchavim Regional Council consists of 14 small communities (moshavim) in the surrounding area, with a population of 9,000. The relationship between UJC MetroWest and these communities is part of Partnership 2000, a Jewish Agency program which began in 1996. The partnership has evolved from a focus on economic development to a wide range of initiatives designed to enhance the quality of life, with an emphasis on youth activities and thriving for excellence, including volunteer development; student leadership program; New Horizons Art Project; music and sports activities; Enriched School Day including nutrition program; Youth at Risk programs; and much more.