It was only a generation or two ago, that ‘halutzim,’ pioneers in Hebrew, were building the State of Israel; young men and women were draining swamps, planting crops and building kibbutzim. Back in 1948, building the newly formed modern State of Israel was hard work—but one thing everyone had in common was that they pursued their vision together, as groups and communities. No one built Israel alone.
The reality has always been that the quality of life is considerably lower in the social geographic peripheral areas of Israel:
- average wages are less than in the center of the count
- life expectancy is 3.5 years less
- matriculation exam results are significantly low
- higher education statistics are low
- public transportation is less accessible
- art and cultural events are infrequent
For these reasons, during the past decade, over 14,000 members of our MAKOM communities have settled throughout Israel, primarily in Israel's social geographic periphery. MAKOM is an organization that serves as the umbrella organization for 15 Israeli organizations, each one having a network of mission-based communities [see organizational structure attached]. These 200 mission-driven communities of modern-day pioneers represent all sectors of society; Jews and non-Jews, Modern Orthodox, Secular, Ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian, Druze, recently observant, Russian Mountain Jews (from the Caucuses region) and Bedouins – all sharing the commitment of developing society in Israel, each in their respective geographical locations. We impact over 600,000 individuals and are creating positive change in society and making Israel's periphery flourish through quality education, culture, employment, social welfare, youth and community development, while emphasizing pluralism, social justice, democracy and equality.
To help move hundreds of thousands of people to the Negev and Galilee, Jewish National Fund partnered with MAKOM as these modern-day pioneers live and settle in underutilized and underdeveloped parts of Israel as a lifetime commitment and devote their lives to building and strengthening the social aspects of life in the different communities. Our communities have taken the initiative of promoting social action and through this, we are empowering cities and towns throughout Israel.
Social initiatives are developed based on the specific needs of where these communities are located. In one city there could be a large number of immigrants, and therefore, the social initiatives will be geared towards the needs of the immigrants, and in another city the education system might be falling behind, so the focus will be on bringing educators for children and youth to work in schools, extra-curricular and youth programs. In some cases, there is an issue of families struggling to put food on the table, so our community operates a food pantry, and so on and so forth.