Our Jewish Federation nurtures a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel through the Philadelphia – Netivot & Sdot Negev Partnership, established in 1997.
Each year, more than 350 Philadelphians visit the city of Netivot and the Sdot Negev region through the Jewish Federation, including teens and young adults. They experience everyday life in Israel, develop relationships with Israelis and get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the Negev, close to the Gaza border.
About Netivot & Sdot Negev
Netivot, northwest of Beersheba, is the closest Israeli city to Gaza with a population of about 30,000. The Sdot Negev Regional Council, which includes Netivot, covers 200 square kilometers and is home to more than 40,000 residents, including many immigrants from North Africa, the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. The area includes 16 moshavim and two kibbutzim, including pioneering kibbutzim that brought water to the Negev in early days of the State of Israel.
Netivot was originally founded as city of North African immigrants. These residents then welcomed Russian-speaking and Ethiopian immigrants, wanting to help the next waves of aliyah make a smooth transition to life in Israel.
Our Partnership’s Goals
Over the past 20 years, the Jewish Federation has invested over $10 million dollars in our partnership region while building a strong relationship that transcends dollars and capital projects. Our goal is to continue to build the personal connections that have grown between the people of Philadelphia and Netivot & Sdot Negev.
Philadelphians get to explore their Jewish identity and volunteerism, bonding with their peers in Israel about issues of shared concern. We work collaboratively to design and implement innovative programs in the areas of education and community, regional development, religious pluralism, Ethiopian issues and Jewish identity.
Our Jewish Federation is part of the Negev Funding Coalition, working with other Federations to raise the quality of life in the Negev. Many of the innovative programs we have developed through our partnership have been replicated in other Negev communities.
Having helped to increase security and build some important local institutions, we’ve shifted our emphasis to educational and cultural enrichment. Our most recent projects focus on healthy placemaking and creative placemaking projects that enhance the quality of life in the region.
Our Partnership’s Accomplishments
The partnership has funded an emergency warehouse, first responders’ equipment, upgrades for community bomb shelters, and children’s programming and supplies for long stays in shelters.
We’ve helped build The Kaiserman Ethiopian Center and Annabel Lindy Cultural Center, Tannenbaum Music Conservatory, Saligman Early Childhood Education Center and more.
Recently funded programs, focused on educational and cultural enrichment, include an Ethiopian community garden and a cryptography course for 5th graders, co-funded by the Ministry of Defense.
A Warm Welcome in the Negev
A critically important component of the partnership’s success is the warm welcome residents of the Netivot & Sdot Negev Region have extended to the Jewish community of Greater Philadelphia. Embracing its relationship with Philadelphia, Netivot even boasts a replica of the Liberty Bell. If you’re planning a trip to Israel, don’t miss the chance to visit your family in Netivot & Sdot Negev.
How the Partnership Works
A steering committee comprising members from Philadelphia, Netivot & Sdot Negev makes annual allocation decisions. Last year’s allocation was $360,000, which funded 14 programs plus staff and the cost of hosting visiting delegations.
The Philadelphia-Sdot Negev relationship is part of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership2Gether program, which links 39 regions in Israel with 550 Diaspora communities. These partnerships emphasize people-to-people relationships, collective decision making, and development of collaborative programs.
Interested in volunteering on a local project? Joining a committee? We are here to help you find your connection to Israel.
If you’re planning to be in Israel, whether on a mission, a group trip or family trip, add a visit to Netivot & Sdot Negev to your itinerary. We’re happy to provide an experience, activity or project to help you get to know the region and see the things we helped to build.