Recently Lucy Fisher, Atidim Project Chair, National Projects Steering Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America (and The Network of Independent Communities) visited with us and provided the following summary for individuals or congregations from the Jewish and Christian communities who may have interest in this unique opportunity for compassion and humanitarian work regarding providing help for underprivileged youth, investing in "the future" of Israel.
What is Atidim ("The Future")
Atidim is an Israeli program that gives socioeconomically disadvantaged youth (13 to 30 years old) an opportunity to excel in science and technology which enables them to serve Israel through employment in public service, industry, and the military. Since 1999, the Jewish Agency for Israel has joined with Israeli philanthropists, Israel’s Ministry of Education, local Israeli school systems/municipalities, and the Israel Defense Force to implement this innovative public/private program whose goal is to break the cycle of poverty of Israel’s economically underprivileged youth.
Where/Why is Atidim?
Atidim was developed to help Israel’s “socially and geographically vulnerable periphery”. The center of the country has always been and continues to be the most advantageous place to live both for access and opportunities. The periphery towns have their origins as development towns in the late 1940’s . Many are located in the Negev Desert and in the Galil (Galilee). They were created to receive the approximately 1 million Jewish refugees who were expelled from their native countries in response to Israel’s declaration of statehood. The citizens in these towns have traditionally sustained themselves by employment in low skilled factories. As much of Israel has moved forward in today’s hi-tech, computer-oriented world, the towns of the periphery fell deeper into poverty as the increasingly obsolete factories shut down and unemployment dramatically increased. These same towns have also received new waves of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Northern Africa, and Ethiopia. Many of these new immigrants arrived ill prepared and without the skills needed to prosper in modern Israeli society.
Atidim has proven itself to be a highly successful program. The top 30% academically gifted students in the “periphery” are chosen each year to participate in Atidim programs. Atidim targets potential and insures it is not wasted. So far there are 20,000 young people enrolled from 70 communities. This year alone, 400 new engineers and scientists will graduate from the program and enter jobs in hi-tech and the sciences.
To subsidize a student in the program, approximately $1500 is needed per academic year. This is 100% matched by Israeli philanthropists, businessmen, and the Israeli government. Every dollar you give, is matched. The money goes toward full tuition, living expenses, laptops, and tutoring assistance. Giving a donation not only gives a young person the chance of a lifetime, but also channels their intelligence as a gift for Israel’s future. In Israel the most valuable resource is its people. Don’t let any of them be left behind.
How can you help?
To donate in the United States contact Lucy Fisher, Atidim Project Chair, National Projects Steering Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America/The Network of Independent Communities. You can contact her by phone 256-698-4862 (leave message) or email email@example.com or by sending a check made out to “JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America)-Atidim” and mail it to Atidim P.O. Box 1134 Madison, Alabama 35758. All donations are tax deductible and you will receive a letter acknowledging your donation and updates on the progress of your portion of Atidim. For more information on Atidim go to www.atidim.org (click English).