Gon Saussnan & Jane Fantel with the entrepreneurs from the Adva Project
Growing up in Israel, Sha’ar HaNegev was always associated with war-related terminology such as rockets, vulnerability, Tzeva Adom—red color alert, rocket sirens, Iron Dome, tunnels, and destruction. Although I’ve always wanted to visit the area to support the amazing and brave Zionists who live with this daily existential threat, I’ve never had the chance to go there.
Finally, as a San Diego resident and the new Director of Israel and Overseas, I had the opportunity to travel to Sha'ar HaNegev — last month, sparking my enthusiasm to explore this region, to get to know the people who live in our sister city, and to learn about San Diego and Federation’s partnership and commitment to this important community.
When my predecessor, Jane Fantel, David Bramzon, Board Chair-Elect, and I arrived in Sha’ar HaNegev, we were warmly welcomed by the region’s cohesive and devoted community. Eight thousand people live in this area and their sense of attachment to the land, and strong alliance with each other, helps explain how they continually overcome the daily challenges they endure.
We had the pleasure of meeting with the new mayor of Sha’ar HaNegev, Ofir Libstein, who shared his vision for the region with us. He wants the SH regional council to be known for strong and innovative education programs and robust economic opportunities.
Libstein firmly believes that the vision can be accomplished by developing strong, young leadership that will accelerate local economic growth with an emphasis on building a resilient, supportive community through social entrepreneurship opportunities.
Last year, with significant funding by the Jewish Federation of San Diego County’s amazing donors, an innovative social entrepreneurship program for young adults—the Greenhouse for Social Innovation platform—was launched.
After a year of learning how to develop and lead a social/business enterprise, with massive support from a team of leading experts and mentors, six phenomenal projects were presented at the culmination event. We are proud to share the following awardee programs with you:
The Artists’ Center which promotes the support and development of local artists.
The Neshimama Center which empowers and supports local mothers during and after their maternity.
The Adva – the Adversity Advantage program, which empowers youth from the area, including Bedouin teens to develop environmental initiatives that are relevant to their communities.
I look forward to sharing more in the months ahead.
To learn more about our work in Israel, please contact me today.
by Miri Ketayi, Director, Israel & Overseas