In January 2007, a long-term partnership was established between the Miami Jewish community and the city of Yerucham, Israel. Located in the Negev Desert, and boasting the second largest lake in Israel, Yerucham is a 13-square-mile city founded in 1951 as a transit camp for new immigrants. Today, it is home to a diverse population of approximately 9,400 residents, representing a microcosm of Israel’s many cultural and ethnic communities.
The purpose of the Miami-Yerucham Partnership is to build meaningful relationships in order to strengthen both communities, and to foster and develop a love of Judaism, Israel and the Jewish people. The Partnership encourages people-to-people relationships between residents of Miami and Yerucham. It also promotes mutually supportive initiatives, connecting resources and expertise to achieve sustained spiritual, social, cultural and economic growth for both communities.
Learn about the Negev Work Group, in which the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is partnering with The Jewish Federations of North America and other Federations to help the State of Israel in development of the Negev Region.
Miami Initiatives with Yerucham
- Youth Futures
One out of every three children in Israel lives below the poverty line. Youth Futures is an innovative program of the Jewish Agency for Israel that focuses on at-risk children ages eight to 18. It provides them with positive role models (or “trustees”), as well as tools for academic and personal success.
Each Youth Futures Trustee works approximately four hours each week with up to 15 children as a group, in addition to weekly one-on-one meetings and activities. Trustees help the children to develop motivation, self-esteem and self-confidence. In time, this leads to improved scholastic performances and positive goal-setting.
Kulanu (Hebrew for “all of us”) is a three-way partnership between the Jewish communities of Miami, Yerucham and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Organized through each community’s Jewish community center, Kulanu is a Jewish leadership and educational program for teens, ages 15 to 18. Participants serve for two years as madrichim (group leaders) in their respective JCC's youth programs. Kulanu hopes to strengthen Jewish identity among participants through shared experiences, form a multi-cultural group in which participants celebrate their differences, and grow and work together, and encourage madrichim to serve as Jewish role models among their peers and the communities at large.
- School Twinning
Federation and the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education pair Jewish day schools in Miami with schools in Yerucham, so students can correspond, work on joint projects – and become friends.
- Youth Programs
Federation supports a variety of programs to instill a sense of pride, leadership and involvement among Yerucham’s children and teens. We also provide spaces, facilities and assistance especially for the region’s at-risk youth.
- Young Communities
Tzvi (Young People of Yerucham) supports and creates cultural, community and social programs for those ages 20 to 35. The goals are to create a sense of pride and community, and to attract young people from all over Israel to settle in Yerucham.
Ayalim Foundation creates incentives, such as scholarships and affordable housing, to encourage students to live and work in Israel’s Negev region. Students living in Yerucham’s Ayalim Student Village volunteer to help with more than 300 local children, initiating age-appropriate activities and taking part in educational, social and cultural programs.
- Project OTZMA
Recent college graduates between the ages of 20 and 25 can spend 10 months volunteering in Israel on a variety of projects related to their studies and interests. Through Miami’s partnership with the city of Yerucham, volunteers are teaching English to under-served school children in the Negev region of Israel. Participants receive one month of training, followed by nine months of teaching and volunteering. Miami’s partnership with Yerucham provides them with housing as well as a subsidy to live and volunteer in Israel. Read more here.
Watch a video about OTZMA in Yerucham.
Read here about one young woman’s experiences in Yerucham.
For more information about Miami’s partnership cities, contact us at IsraelOverseas@JewishMiami.org or 786.866.8495.
“It was incredible to literally build the desert and be part of an idealistic Zionism, and then to return to Yerucham to take part in a tradition in which everyone opens their doors to their neighbors and visits each other. Though I was very far from my family, the experience really made me feel at home.”
Otzma participant sponsored by Miami
After returning to the United States, she decided to move to Israel.
She now lives in an Ayalim Student Village in Yerucham.