Something major is happening in Ramat Eliyahu, our longest-standing partner community. This new school year is bringing major renewal initiatives into this neighborhood which we have maintained a partnership with for almost 40 years – an amount of time unheard of in the rapidly changing world of Israel/Diaspora relationships.
Some may question whether a relationships on this length might grow stale or tired… whether we need to find “new and exciting ways to attract the support of the next generation of Federation donors.” To those I say, exactly! Our Ramat Eliyahu relationship – and, actually, all of our partnership relationships – are vehicles or platforms that allow us to develop intimate relationship and deep knowledge with these local communities, to work closely with local leadership, to address real needs in real time, and to most effectively leverage our financial investments. We are moving forward all the time and every year we come up with new initiatives, new developments, and new programs, based on what we have built over time.
Today, September 1, in Ramat Eliyahu is an excellent day to showcase our GMW impact:
1. One of the first things we did when we started this relationship was to help build a Matnas. This agency, The Oolie Community Center, is still the hub for most of our programs and projects in town. The walls of this community center tell the story of our relationship and display the names of hundreds of GMW families who have supported Federation’s operations there over the years. This summer the Oolie family decided, after many years, to reconnect to the Matnas which carries their name. They made a generous gift to help construct a new early childhood day care center that opens today.
2. When a major wave of Olim from Ethiopia settled in Ramat Eliyahu we started a new initiative called Atzmaut. Over the last 12 years we have developed and expanded the program, both in town and nationally through JDC. This year we are moving to a new mode of operation with the merger of Atzmaut and The Israel Center for Educational Innovation (ICEI). Today, a whole new project called Atzmaut Plus launched, based on our combined expertise and leveraging both private and municipal resources that will allow our Federation to do so much more with so much less. The Zissu family has played a pivotal role in making this happen.
3. About ten years ago we constructed the Feinberg Family Center in Ramat Eliyahu. While the programs in the center have operated nicely, the building itself has been in need of a face lift, particularly the Aviv kindergarten, which provides unique treatments for very young children with autism. Through the generous support of the Newman and Feinberg families (whose support originally helped construct the center), the kindergarten has been renovated and upgraded so that, when they arrive today, the new cohort of children will find a much better environment to greet and treat them.
4. Our Global Connections department adopted and has been developing the concept of building cohesiveness and shared society in Israel through our Kedma platform. This coming year we are focusing on implementing it throughout our partnership network by connecting various Israeli populations (the tribes of modern Israel). This month in Ramat Eliyahu we will launch a joint project with Kulanana (a national initiative supported by the Ted Arison Family Foundation) to develop a joint neighborhood leadership group between the Ethiopian and Russian Olim and veteran Israeli residents and to bring together grass roots organizations and activists from all backgrounds.
This year, thanks to the funding from our Annual Campaign as well as the support of various organizations, foundations, municipal resources, and private donors we are able to increasingly leverage our investments in Israel and we can’t wait to see the results.