Cultivating Deserts

Making aliyah is a bit like taking the ultimate leap of faith; as Jews we leave what is familiar and embark on the journey of a life time to return to the Promised Land of Israel. But when you arrive you will find that living in Israel is like being adopted into one great big family complete with a large amount of support networks to help make your transition a little smoother and a little less overwhelming.

One such network is an organization called, Ayalim which promotes settlement and social development in the Negev and the Galilee. These two regions comprise 80% of Israel’s territory but produce only 8% of its economy. Founded in 2002 to undertake this critical challenge, Ayalim is committed to bringing to these areas promising young Israelis. It does so by founding student villages in the disadvantaged communities of Israel’s South and North. Beginning in 2005 Ayalim began operating educational programs. One of their core programs “Adopt a school”, is a unique educational program for 9 schools in the Negev and Galilee. The program is based on the Ministry of Education’s aim of value based education and violence prevention. “Adopt a school” program includes building educational greenhouses by Ayalim students. In the 2009-2010 school year, Ayalim operated the first program in a greenhouse in “Meuhad” elementary school in Yerucham. “Due to the success, we decided to expand the program to 8 other schools where we operate.” After the expansion, Ayalim will work with 3600 children regularly and 10,000 children in special events.

It is programs like these created by dedicated individuals and groups such as Ayalim that allow new immigrants to settle in more quickly and comfortably than those before them. With a minimal budget that is primarily based on grants and private donations, Ayalim is doing amazing things one school at a time to help these children and their families on the road to success. Because after all isn’t that what family is all about? Helping each other one step at a time.

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