Masa students .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Earlier this week, the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization (WZO) opened an international volunteer center in Mitzpe Ramon, through which young volunteers will teach English and help promote tourism to the region. The area is comprised of large pockets of Bedouins.
The center was opened in the framework of Project TEN, which brings together young Jewish adults from all over the world to work in developing areas. The young adults combine volunteer work with local communities and service learning in the fields of international development, culture, identity and Jewish activism. Currently, there are volunteers in Puerto Rico, Ghana, Mexico, Uganda, South Africa and other places in Israel.
Mitzpe Ramon volunteers will teach spoken English in local schools and help highlight the areas of tourist attraction.
The program is being conducted in collaboration with the Mitzpe Ramon Regional Council and the Tlalim Group.
“The Negev continues to be built in line with the vision of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, who also headed the Jewish Agency,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, who was also in attendance. “The new volunteer center in Mitzpe Ramon is the latest step that implements Ben-Gurion’s vision of making the desert bloom, while accomplishing this goal through the core Jewish value of tikkun olam. Along with the WZO, I welcome this crucial project that will strengthen the relationship between young Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, and strengthen the Negev, in the name of the Jewish people.
In addition to Herzog, the kick-off event was attended by WZO Chairman Avraham Duvdevani; vice chairman of WZO Yaakov Haguel; head of the Zionist Enterprises Dror Morag; CEO of the Mitzpe Ramon Local Council Dror Dvash; and Director of the Social Activism Unit of the Jewish Agency Nir Lahav, among others.
“Volunteering is one of the foundations on which Israel is built,” said Duvdevani. “Without volunteers, our existence here is impossible. Thus, the initiative we are now inaugurating in Mitzpe Ramon is one of great importance.”
Morag added that WZO and the Jewish Agency aspire to create an exemplary society.
“We understand that social activism for the sake of the citizens of Israel, and all humanity, is in the core of the Zionist belief,” Morag said. “Just as much as Zionism initially sought to find solutions and stop the suffering of the Jewish people, we seek to promote tikkun olam and social justice as ways to express the modern values and role of Zionism. This we also do by connecting young Jews from Israel with their peers in the Diaspora.”
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