Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal

To the Board of the Jewish Community in Porto, in behalf of Mr. Sam Grundwerg, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod, and Dani Alaluf, Director for Latin America, Portugal and Spain, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your constant leadership and support for the people and State of Israel. It has been an incredibly difficult past two years for Jewish communities around the world. Yet, despite your own personal challenges, you have remained dedicated to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the Israeli people.

Keren Hayesod works, according to its unique mandate, in partnership with its donors and with organizations in Israel and around the world, to raise funds dedicated to the wellbeing of the People of Israel, through activities that:

Support and enhance Aliyah and absorption in Israel

  • Strengthen Israeli society through improving the lives of disadvantaged populations and those living in the geographic and social periphery
  • Strengthen Jewish peoplehood and the connection of young Jews to Israel across the globe
  • Respond to emergencies that affect the People of Israel
  • Address the changing needs and national priorities of Israel and the People of Israel

The State of Israel was founded on the spirit of immigrants. Aliyah and absorption hold great importance and remain a top priority for Keren Hayesod. Together with you and our strategic partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, we have placed significant emphasis on supporting all aspects of the aliyah process: from pre-aliyah to the arrival of new olim and their absorption into their new homes and surroundings.

Keren Hayesod is committed to ensuring that all children in Israel, regardless of their social and economic backgrounds, benefit from equal access to quality education, resources and support. We prioritize programs that help Israel’s disadvantaged children and youth to succeed. Together with The Jewish Agency for Israel, our global family helps provide resources for critical interventions at all stages of development and of varied kinds, from mentorship to extracurricular learning that will help them advance in the future.

We support Youth Futures, a national project that empowers children (ages 6-13 years old) and their families. The program provides personalized attention, positive social experiences and educational enrichment that help participants to develop their strengths and bridge scholastic, social and cultural gaps. The program is unique in its holistic model. Mentors build interventions together with other parts of the participants’ support network, including their families, schools and communities. A study looking at children after three years of participation found that they had improved in all four spheres of focus that Youth Future is active: personal, social, family and academics. Among families, 85% claimed that they improved their tools and skills as parents and 83% reported an improvement in their relationships with their children.

We know the importance of investing in our youth. We are committed to helping them succeed and prioritize national projects that give Israel’s teenagers the necessary education and interventions they need to go on to greater achievements. In Israel today, integrating a technological curriculum into our children’s education can have a transformative impact and give graduates more opportunities for career advancement and financial stability. We are proud to support the Net@ program, which brings this in-demand subject to students in Israel’s periphery. Since 2003, the project has been helping underserved youth living in Israel’s socioeconomic and geographic periphery to overcome the country’s technological divide. Net@ is the only long-term youth program in Israel that brings together Jewish, Muslim and Christian youth.Net@ is a joint initiative of Keren Hayesod, The Jewish Agency, Cisco and Appleseeds.

We also support Youth Villages across the country. These unique educational centres provide critical integrations to help Israel’s most at-risk youth. Our Youth Villages are often considered the last hope for these students and are distinctive in their capacity to help them achieve meaningful personal growth.

Youth Villages help students in secondary education to cope with integration difficulties, to break the cycle of poverty and to become contributing members of Israeli society. Students benefit from personalized interventions, therapeutic and psychological counselling and a remedial education in a supportive, residential home atmosphere.

The Negev and Galilee comprise 70% of Israel’s territory, yet are home to only 30% of its population and produce only 8% of its economic output. Many residents of the periphery, including new immigrants, are cut off from the economic, cultural and educational opportunities that are available in the centre of the country. The widening socioeconomic gap poses a serious threat to the country’s future. That’s why, with the assistance of Keren Hayesod supporters, we prioritize projects like Choosing Tomorrow.The program encourages young adults to live and contribute to communities in Israel’s periphery.

The shortage of low-rent housing in Israel imposes great hardships on many elderly Israelis who do not own their own homes. The situation is particularly severe for Holocaust survivors and immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, who have no assets and lack an extensive support system of family and friends. Welfare allocations are often far too inadequate to even rent the most basic apartment. Keren Hayesod and our supporters believe that everyone deserves to live with dignity and that’s why we have prioritized our work with the Amigour Housing Management Company.

Amigour is Israel’s leading operator of public and sheltered housing facilities and the key agent responding to this critical need. Thanks to Keren Hayesod donors, major building projects are underway to create additional apartments to meet the growing demand.

In addition to affordable housing and independent living, residents also benefit from a sense of community. Each residence has a dedicated staff, including a social worker, to help the residents and ensure that all their needs are met. Residents also benefit from a variety of programs, classes, trips around Israel, holiday celebrations and more. All of this is designed so that residents enjoy personal enrichment and dignified living.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is considered the great equalizer in Israeli society and provides the space in which national solidarity and camaraderie are forged. Military service is a rite of passage that provides an entry ticket into Israeli society, and service in elite units is a strong foundation for future success and upward social mobility. As such, Keren Hayesod and our donors have prioritized projects that help disadvantaged youth and new olim that serve in the IDF.

We support pre-army academies (Mechinot) specially focused on supporting disadvantaged youth. These programs enable youth from all walks of Israeli life to benefit from a transformative learning experience that enhances their military service and enriches their commitment to Israel, the global Jewish family, and their community.

Mechinot are tailored to address the challenges of different sectors of Israeli society, including Druze, Bedouin, lone soldiers from the Diaspora and from Israeli society, Ethiopian teens, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and disadvantaged young women.

In addition, we also assist lone immigrant soldiers to have a successful transition from army to civilian life. Most Israelis have their families available to help them with this transition. By contrast, lone immigrant soldiers are often alone in Israel and require our assistance to help them take the next steps in making Israel their home: finding a place to live, managing a budget, obtaining an education and pursuing a career path.

With our partners, we are helping these olim through the Wings seminar towards the end of their service, a release grant and a Wings alumni network that extends support after they have completed their service.

Keren Hayesod serves as the bridge between Israel and Jewish communities and friends of Israel around the world. Together, we are dedicated to the continuation of the Jewish people and ensuring our connectivity to one another. Keren Hayesod and our supporters have therefore prioritized projects that promote Jewish identity building, the strongest Zionist education and the security of Jews around the world. Thanks to your generosity, we support Masa Israel Journey, the leader in immersive international experiences in Israel for young people ages 18-30.

Masa programs are transformative for young Jews and have proven more successful than any other means in ensuring lifelong bonds with Israel and involvement in Jewish life. Masa programs have added value as they serve a pre-aliyah function for interested participants.

Masa also helps Israel’s periphery by bringing these communities young, motivated leaders passionate about community service and contributing to the people in these areas.

Keren Hayesod is and will continue to be the world’s leading fundraising organization for the People of Israel. It enables all those who want to support Israel as the Jewish homeland, enhance the lives of the People of Israel, and strengthen the connection between them and Jewish communities around the world, to express their commitment by contributing funds to activities, projects and enterprises Keren Hayesod deems of value and priority in promoting these causes.

Keren Hayesod will continue to be a bridge that embodies this unbreakable connection, and makes it possible for all to act as a collective – working for a strong Israel at the heart of the Jewish world; a secure Israel that can provide a home and safe haven for all Jews; and a successful Israel that everyone can be proud of.