Each year, Art City provides more than 200 youth in Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon, Israel, an opportunity for professional development in the performing arts. The program contributes to the community and region with cultural and social activities, empowering youth with a sense of belonging, and using creativity to integrate cultures. It is one among many youth and community development programs funded through the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s annual campaign funding.
Art City began nearly a decade ago and has evolved, with JFSA’s support, to a new level, says Oshrat Barel, JFSA senior vice president for planning and community engagement. The program now stages a professional level musical annually during Hanukkah for the surrounding communities.
“This is our next generation, these are the people that will be our friends, our neighbors, and our leaders,” says Andrea Arbel, Jewish Agency for Israel partnership unit director, based in Jerusalem. “By investing in them, we help create better lives for them and the entire community.”
Along with Art City, JFSA allocations and Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona/Federation aligned grants fund programs — on both sides of the ocean.
Perhaps most visible on this side, the shinshinim (Israeli teen emissaries) program brings two young Israeli ambassadors to Tucson annually to share culture and education with youth and the community at large.
Multifaith missions to Israel expand locals’ perspectives and knowledge of real life on the ground in Israel. Mission participants bring back those revelations to share with family, friends and the wider community.
Through School Twinning Programs with Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon, students and teachers in Tucson develop strong relationships with their peers in Israel, sharing culture, language, and friendships. Teachers participate in foreign exchange through an Amitim (colleagues) Program.
In Israel, Krembo Wings provides weekly and summer social activities for young people with all types of mental and physical disabilities, together with their non-disabled peers aged 7 to 22. Kiryat Malachi is among 65 national branches across Israel, with more than 6,000 members nationwide. Along with helping the youth they mentor, the volunteer youth counselors benefit from leadership training.
Another national program, SAHI (Mitzvah Special Forces), empowers at-risk teens to engage in helping others. This program helps teens to become stronger citizens through volunteerism, becoming agents of change in their communities. Youth Giving Units collect food and bundle food packages for more than 2,000 needy households across Israel weekly. The youth units deliver the packages, knock on the door, and leave quickly, so the family is not made uncomfortable and to remain anonymous. JFSA funds the program in Kiryat Malachi.
Achari Program (Follow Me) supports and counsels Ethiopian families with limited Hebrew-speaking skills to increase readiness for their children’s mandatory Israeli Defense Forces service. The program influences their future through education, cultivating leadership and social involvement. The project uses the military recruitment process not to supply the army with “better soldiers” but to supply Israeli society with better civilians, guided by strong values, believing in themselves and their mission, with a greater sense of belonging and a concerned attitude.