Israel Partner Communities
Ofakim is a development city of 34,000 in the northern Negev, midway between Beersheva and Gaza. The Merchavim Regional Council consists of 14 small communities (moshavim) in the surrounding area. Our relationship with these communities is part of Partnership 2000, a Jewish Agency Israeli (JAFI) 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, volunteer development, student leadership programs, an art center, music and sports activities, and enriched school day projects including a nutrition program, youth-at-risk programs, and much more.
Arad is located on the border of the Negev and Judean Deserts, near the Dead Sea. The city is home to a diverse population that includes Ashkenazim and Sephardim, secular and religious, Russians, Ethiopians, and Bedouins, as well as native-born Israelis. The New Jersey/Arad Partnership fosters enduring relationships among Jewish communities by funding an array of programs, including economic development, arts and culture, strengthening youth, and program that connect Arad and New Jersey.
Kibbutz Erez 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 began in response to the difficult security situation in Israel and 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 and renovation of a safe room attached to one of the children’s houses, renovation and reinforcement of the kibbutz’s medical clinics, donation of an emergency generator, and much more.
South of Tel Aviv, Rishon LeZion is the fourth largest city in Israel. Project Renewal, focusing on the disadvantaged neighborhood of Ramat Eliyahu (now called Neve Eliyahu) was the beginning of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ’s partnership with the city in 1978. Federation has maintained an active relationship with the neighborhood and has developed a close connection with the entire city.
A Druze village in the northern Galillee, Hurfeish became connected to Greater MetroWest as a result of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. We recognized the significant contribution that the Druze population makes to the State of Israel through its loyal participation in civil affairs and the Israel Defense Forces. We are the only U.S. Federation with a partner relationship that connects a Diaspora Jewish community to an Israeli Arab village.
Jewish Diaspora Partner Community
In central Ukraine, about midway between Kiev and Odessa, Cherkassy is both a city and a county. The city has an overall population of 350,000, and 1.5 million more live in the county. The total Jewish population in the area is 8,000-9,000. Federation’s partnership began in 1996 through the JDC, and has focused on developing the Jewish community, providing Jewish education, fostering Jewish identity, and aiding the elderly, most of whom live in dire poverty.