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News from Ramat Negev

Without a doubt, 2010 was a year in which we reaped the fruits of long years of labor.

First of all, we have grown and as of the last count in September, Ramat Hanegev residents numbered 5113…

New neighborhoods built in the council’s communities are in high demand by families that want to come to us from all over the country and, believe it or not, the biggest problem right now in Ramat Hanegev is a housing shortage…!

This year we mark the 13th anniversary of the Colorado – Ramat Hanegev Partnership 2000. In the coming year we hope to find creative ways to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of the wonderful partnership we have formed!

And in the meantime, you can read about some of the outstanding events of the last couple of months:

Partnership Ties

We may have returned without medals but with incredible experiences!

A youthful delegation of Ramat Hanegev athletes returned from participating in this summer’s Maccabia Games in Denver. In the area of sports there might be some room for improvement, but the main thing is the great relationships that were forged with the local community.

Experiencing the impressive opening ceremony in the hockey rink of Denver University, attended by the heads of the Denver Jewish community and the other Jewish communities that participated, including our own mayor Shmuel Rifman, will be remembered for many years to come.

The delegation spent two weeks in Denver enjoying “deluxe” hospitality at the homes of two charming and wonderful families and a warm welcome and loving embrace from the entire community and the organizers!

The youngsters returned to Israel with many wonderful experiences and new friends, but mainly full of appreciation and gratitude to the Denver community.

The Davis Family Scholarship Fund

The Davis family, of Las Vegas has contributed generously to setting up an academic scholarship fund for residents of Ramat Hanegev.

This past summer a joint Davis Family – Ramat Hanegev Scholarship Fund was established, in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas. The Fund, which will start operating in the 2011-2012 school year, will enable every eligible Ramat Hanegev resident to apply for a substantial scholarship for academic studies. The aim is to encourage students to come back to live in Ramat Hanegev after graduation.

Last June the Davis family, which included the couple Laurence and Joan and their two children Holly and Jason, was hosted in the region. They are avowed Zionists who simply fell in love with the Negev and the people they met during their visit.  We hope that the scholarships offered by the Fund will not only encourage our residents to go on to higher education and “come back home” after graduation, but also attract new families to Ramat Hanegev.

The fund is the first blossom in the budding partnership between Ramat Hanegev and the Las Vegas Jewish community. In the coming year we hope to sign a Ramat Hanegev-Las Vegas Partnership 2000 agreement, which will make us the first lone regional council in Israel to have Partnership 2000 ties with two communities (Colorado and Las Vegas) at the same time!

From Denver to Ramat Hanegev…

At the end of October, two delegations from the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado visited Ramat Hanegev: A 16-member Seniors Delegation headed by Larry Siegel and escorted by Susan Kramer. The visitors stayed at the Shanty House, traveled the length of the Egyptian border road, got acquainted with Ezuz and Khan Be’erotayim, Nitzana, Ayalim and the Neve Midbar Hot Springs. The delegation was very impressed by what’s being done in the region, and especially by the pioneering spirit they found everywhere they went. At the sum-up session they told Mayor Shmuel Rifman that they were able to feel and see the realization of Ben-Gurion’s dream.

A delegation of 28 young adults, conducted by Federation leaders Judi Robins and Doug Seserman, met with the Young Adults’ Forum of Ramat Hanegev for a joint jeep trip, after which they cooked a delicious dinner under the guidance of our mayor [and renowned chef]. The next day featured early morning bike-riding in the Mashabim area, jogging and yoga. After breakfast they were taken for an interesting tour in Ayalim.

On the Egyptian border they heard a first-hand overview by the deputy regiment commander of the entire IDF district regarding the work of the regiment in securing the border, ending the day with a comprehensive tour of the Nitzana Youth Village and a meeting with some of the program’s participants. At the end of their visit the delegation members expressed their appreciation, particularly remarking on the fascinating discourse they had with the Israelis  they met.

We were also visited by Roberta McGowan, CEO of the Aspen Jewish community, who dedicated the new basketball court in Beer Milka, built thanks to a generous contribution of the Aspen community. Other welcome visitors were Peggy and Mary, long-time friends of Ramat Hanegev, who came, as they do every year, for a week-long visit here.

New developments and new beginnings…

The Ramat Hanegev Regional Council’s Women’s Business Forum is on its way!

The director-general of the Ministry for Development of the Hanegev & the Galilee at the Ramat Hanegev Women's Business Forum

Approximately 40 women entrepreneurs from the region took part last month in the first meeting of the Women’s Business Forum. Held at the Ramat Hanegev Community Center, the forum welcomed honored guest Orna Hosman-Bechor, Director-general of the Ministry for Development of the Hanegev and the Galilee, who addressed the forum and promised that her office would assist in promoting women who own small businesses in the region, declaring,

I am with you!”

Mayor Rifman also addressed the forum saying, “Entrepreneurship, in general, and women’s enterprises, in particular, generate economic development. I’m delighted to see so many businesswomen here,” said Rifman, promising that the council would continue supporting and promoting small businesses, especially from the marketing aspect. In the region roughly 50 women entrepreneurs operate businesses in a variety of fields. Setting up the forum and holding a wide range of activities is designed to help not only these women but also others interested in networking and boosting their business activity and success. The forum plans to convene on a regular monthly basis.

First Home in the Homeland

The [Hebrew language-teaching] Ulpan has opened its 4th group, which will aid in the absorption of 26 new immigrants.

At Kibbutz Revivim this past August we opened a new class for 26 new immigrants from the FSU (Former Soviet Union), the U.S. and even Estonia. The advantage of learning Hebrew in a kibbutz ulpan is the ability to make a newcomer feel at home in the country while teaching him/her the language of the land in a totally Hebrew speaking environment.

In addition to their studies, the immigrants will enjoy fieldtrips, workshops and lectures to become better acquainted with the land and culture of Israel, as well as cultural and social activities in the communities throughout the region.

Our new “Green” elementary school in the new educational campus of Midreshet

In early November the new Katherine & Andre Merage Educational Campus was dedicated at the “Zin” Elementary School, the first ecological elementary school in Ramat Hanegev. The dedication ceremony was honored by the presence of the donor Mrs. Katherine Merage, by the district manager of the Education Ministry Mrs. Amira Haim, by Mayor Shmuel Rifman and other honored guests. The school has been officially defined by the Ministry of Education as “a path-breaking school in the study of environmental protection and in community involvement.”

The new school was constructed according to ecological principles that included many elements based on the knowledge, gathered in the Ramat Hanegev Institute for Desert Research, regarding the use of solar energy for light and radiation. The regional council invested approximately 3 million NIS in this school, whereby the green, conservation elements added an estimated cost of 10% to the investment. However, it is believed that in the long run this investment will pay off in terms of significant saving on energy costs.

Pharm’Adom Desert Spirit– a unique rehab village in the Hanegev

In a moving ceremony attended by the president of Israel, the minister of welfare, the Rashi Foundation and other donors, the national rehabilitation-village project entitled “Desert Spirit Pharmadom” was recently inaugurated in Ramat Hanegev. Partners in the construction of the village, for which a sum of 60 million NIS was invested, include government offices, the National Lottery, Ramat Hanegev Regional Council and a group of pharmacists from France, Pharmadom, who decided to sponsor this project.

The village will treat approximately 210 patients who will live there 6-12 months, receiving a variety of treatment programs designed to return them to useful, productive lives in the community.

Only a strong community like Ramat Hanegev can establish a social project of this kind, knowing that the village will contribute to the community no less than the community will contribute to it,” declared Shmuel Rifman at the ceremony. “Establishing Desert Spirit,” Rifman stressed, “will add to Ramat Hanegev and the entire region around 70 quality employment opportunities in diverse fields.”

About Adva Lloyd

Adva Lloyd is the Spokesperson for the Ramat Negev Regional Council in Israel.

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