Developing the Negev: Federation CJA’s Israel and Overseas Department to focus on 5 major pillars

A school in Beer Sheva

By Ellen Yarrow // Associate Director, Israel & Overseas  

As a community, you have suggested the ways in which you would like us to support Israel. As a Federation, we’ve responded.

Federation CJA’s relationship with Israel reflects the deeply held commitment of our community to the State. Israel is now a thriving nation and our relationship to each other has become one of mutual benefit, learning from one another and building together. Through it all, the most important common thread has been connecting people to people. It is important that our Israeli friends know that they are part of a bigger Jewish world and that the Jewish world cares deeply about Israel and its people. At the same time, once we meet and get to know Israelis, we better understand how important Israel is to our own Jewish identity which strengthens our own community.

Through studies such as Imagine 2020, Federation CJA has been able to uncover which types of initiatives resonate most with our community. With the dedicated support of our partners in Israel, we are able to implement new programs which impact both Israel and the Montreal Jewish community in a variety of ways based on your the short and long term growth.

We’ve identified five major areas where the Israel & Overseas department and its partners pledge to make a lasting difference.

Tolerance and Coexistence

In promoting and supporting Tolerance and Coexistence we are able, through carefully selected programming, to lead the way to develop tolerance and an appreciation of diversity. In building an atmosphere of tolerance, we are creating the ability to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards those whose opinions, practices, religion, nationality and so on differ from one’s own, leading to a condition of coexistence.

A prime example of this can be found at the Hagar Early Childhood Learning Center, which offers equal, high quality education to Arabs and Jews as well as provides a positive environment for Jewish and Arab children to interact with one another. It encourages Jewish and Arab children to learn and respect one another’s heritage, religion, language and customs (see this article by Deborah Corber for more on this initiative).

Supporting Youth-at-Risk

Supporting Youth-at-Risk can be identified as helping those children who live in situations that undermine their rights in life situations such as physical existence, family-related issues, educational problems, emotional health, social integration, and who need protection from at-risk behaviors. The goal of our support in this field is to change the way in which Israeli society copes with these youth at risk and to enhance and strengthen the services for them.

Enhancing Jewish Identity

Enhancing Jewish Identity is integral to the continuity of the Jewish people. Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and the relationship to being Jewish. The sense of identity can be cultural, religious, and/or related to ancestry and can also relate to and involve ties to the Jewish community.

Furthering Israel Education and Engagement

Finally, in Furthering Israel Education and Engagement, Federation CJA supports educational programs and exchanges from early childhood to higher education. All of these programs connect members of our Montreal Jewish community with Israel in different and inspiring ways to inform and engage both our Montreal and partnership communities.

Attracting Population and Population Retention

In the spirit of Attracting Population and Population Retention we are echoing the Israeli government’s strategic plan for the development of the Negev with the specific objective of increasing the population by 250,000 residents—bringing the total population to 900,000. In order to achieve this goal, we are investing in community building initiatives that encourage migration to the Negev as well as ensuring that people already living there want to stay.

The programs we invest in are not just the “funding of projects”. They connect us to a network of partners; program providers, other funders in Israel and governments at all levels, working together to strengthen both Israel and our Montreal community.

Partners Beer Sheva/Bnei Shimon, Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), designated grants for specific projects in Israel, and Federation CJA’s Israel & Overseas department.

For a full description of the programs we support, please click here.

We welcome your feedback and invite your comments.

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