Sha'ar HaNegev

 

Federation's San Diego-Sha'ar HaNegev relationship fosters a mutually beneficial partnership committed to deepening Jewish peoplehood in both communities.

 

Home to 7,000 residents, Sha'ar HaNegev is bravely situated just kilometers away from the Gaza border. Federation supports economic development, cultural exchanges, and provides social services for its residents. We are honored to nurture this 15-year-long dynamic relationship and, thus far, have provided more than $11 million in funding to the region, which is under constant threat from Gaza rockets.

 

In 2012 Federation celebrated the opening of the Sha’ar HaNegev Educational Village, situated only kilometers away from the Gaza border. It educates more than 1,800 K-12 students, from whom it is a first exposure to the arts, music, design and drama. The Art Center is named in memory of Alexander Joseph Viterbi, son of Erna z"l and Andrew Viterbi.

Federation Support in Sha’ar HaNegev

 

Federation support in Sha’ar HaNegev is grouped into three key areas, explained in detail below.

 

People-to-People Connections

Direct connections between the people of Sha’ar HaNegev and San Diego occur within the following contexts and programs:

 

  • Youth groups

  • Synagogues and religious school classes

  • SDJA classes and teachers

  • Birthright trips

  • Federation donor activities and missions

  • Social media

  • San Diego Jewish Film Festival

  • Jewish summer camps

SouthUp Incubator

The non-profit SouthUp Incubator is a partnership between community and business leaders from the San Diego and Sha'ar HaNegev communities. It enjoys significant support and involvement from the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council, San Diego Jewish Federation, Amdocs, Sapir College, Sha'ar HaNegev High School and numerous individual donors from San Diego.

The mission of the incubator is to help create and support a larger entrepreneurial climate and ecosystem in the region, to make Sha’ar HaNegev a recognized startup community, and to promote economic growth and activity within the Sha’ar HaNegev Region.

Emergency

With an 80-year history of support for the State of Israel, Federation is one of the only local organizations set up to immediately provide dollars when disaster strikes. During the crisis of summer 2014, for example, Federation took the lead in bringing the Jewish community together by raising funds for the Reach Out for Israel Campaign. A record $3.4 million was raised, with over $2 million going directly to Federation’s sister region, Sha’ar HaNegev.

Jews in Need

In addition to supporting programs for Jews in need through the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee, Federation supports four additional programs in Sha’ar HaNegev through the Regional Council. These programs focus on three target populations:  youth, women, and seniors.

Music Education

Music education in early childhood is considered particularly beneficial in addressing the developmental needs and difficulties resulting from continuing security problems in the region. The Sha'ar HaNegev music program strives to instill music appreciation in children in each community/kibbutz with the aim of connecting the communities/kibbutzim with the educational complex and the studio located there.

 

Program objectives:

  • Provide opportunities to get to know a broad range of music experientially

  • Teach musical and performing skills (singing and playing instruments)

  • Introduce young children and their families to distinctive musical activities

  • Create a circle connecting young children and their parents to the regional music studio

  • Use musical activities to offer respite during prolonged emergencies

Youth Counselors

The youth counselors team is composed of adult counselors, aged 23 to 30, who work in every community/kibbutz four to five days a week. Once every two weeks, counselors meet for training and learning from their peers. The team functions in both routine situations and emergencies, requiring that counselors develop coping skills and tools that are unfamiliar to educators in safer areas.

 

For example, during Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 8, 2014, in response to the abduction of three teenagers, all social and educational activities that were planned for the summer had to be changed and adapted to the new circumstances. As a result, 1,000 youngsters aged 6 to 18 were engaged in various programs during summer 2014. The counselors were called on to run with the kids to protected areas during activities, handle acute questions about current events, and deal with the fears and mental anguish of children who have grown up under mortar and rocket fire.

Women Together

Since 2008, the Women Together program has provided a monthly meeting space for women who are feeling the stresses of living on the border of Gaza. The meeting gets them out of the house for a few hours on a Friday morning to be with other women for coffee and conversation and to hear an occasional speaker.

The “Fridays for Women” activity launched in 2008 during the Cast Lead operation for women who were in a state of extreme stress following the harrowing security situation. Over 40 women participated in the first event, 60 at the second. Since then, the monthly meeting has become one of the most important activities of the Sha'ar HaNegev Culture Department.

Yachdav Senior Center

The Yachdav Senior Center is a fully functional day program for seniors at the Sapir College Complex. Remarkably, the Center remained open throughout most of the fighting during Operation Protective Edge, as hundreds of seniors took respite visits and short breaks. The types of activities offered are similar to those at comparable programs at Jewish community centers across the US.

 

Ongoing activities at the Yachdav Senior Center include:

  • Weekly choir practice for women, led by a professional conductor

  • Aerobic gym classes and gym classes using the Feuerstein method

  • Chi Kong

  • Nordic walking

  • Daily art, sculpture, and craft workshops

  • Activities in and out of the water at the hydrotherapy center

  • Israel Studies fieldtrips to museums and theaters

  • Carpentry

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