Lack of gov't funds sees summer camps for special needs Israeli kids scrapped

The budget cut to the movement sparked outrage, with some noting past comments against the movement by parties in the coalition.

WITH THE help of El Al, members of Krembo Wings get ready to spread their wings.  (photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
WITH THE help of El Al, members of Krembo Wings get ready to spread their wings.
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)

The Krembo Wings (Knafayim Shel Krembo) youth movement, which brings together both children with special needs and without, was forced to cancel the summer camps it runs due to a cut in government funding, the movement stated on Sunday.

"To our great sorrow and disappointment, the support from the various government ministries has significantly decreased, leading us to the edge of a budgetary and cash flow crisis, which has forced us to reach difficult and complex decisions in order to ensure the continuation of the movement's operations," wrote Talia Harel Bejerano, CEO of Krembo Wings, and Stav Weitz, national operations manager at the movement.

The movement noted that the cancellation of the summer camps is a first step in the movement's efforts to cut back in order to continue operating.

"The summer camp has been the main project of Krembo Wings for over a decade. We are aware of its importance to our members and their families. Nevertheless, we must act responsibly in order to ensure the future operations of the movement, until wide public support is organized for the character and breadth of the operations," added the movement.

"We believe in the importance and significance of Krembo Wings for Israeli society, and we are sure that our partners in the Welfare Ministry will bring about a solution to the crisis we are in for the good of all the members and their families," wrote Bejerano and Weitz.

Members of Krembo Wings (credit: KREMBO WINGS/ARIEL SHRUSTER)Members of Krembo Wings (credit: KREMBO WINGS/ARIEL SHRUSTER)

Krembo Wings was founded by social entrepreneur Adi Altshuler in 2002 when she was just 16 as the first youth movement to integrate youths with and without special needs. About 9,000 youths take part in the movement in 92 branches across the country.

Mayors express outrage at budget cuts to youth movement

The news of the cancellation of the movement's summer camps sparked outrage from a number of mayors across Israel, including Givatayim Mayor Ran Kunik and Ramat Gan Mayor Carmel Shama Hacohen.

Kunik tweeted that the letter was "saddening" adding that "I don't even want to contemplate that this won't be solved and that the budget for this amazing camp won't be found."

Shama Hacohen called the decision to cut funding to the movement "a moral and ethical crime," stressing that the Ramat Gan municipality would step in to help cover the deficit created by the cut in funding.

"Mr. prime minister, do not give your hand to such a cruel decision. There is no more serious moral indictment. Not every city has the ability to address and prevent damage to this sacred operation," wrote the mayor on Facebook.

On Sunday evening, Yesh Atid MK Simon Davidson filed an urgent query to Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Yaakov Mergi concerning the budget cuts, expressing hopes that a solution would be found soon.

Last week, Mergi announced that his ministry would be "substantially increasing" the budget for social programs, including for families in distress, people with disabilities, the elderly and at-risk youth.

Social media users also expressed outrage at the news, with some pointing to a comment made by a member of the Noam Party, of which MK Avi Maoz, a member of the coalition, is the head.

In 2020, Igal Canaan, who was third on the Noam Party's list at the time, published a post claiming that Krembo Wings is based on "Christian positions of connecting with the 'weak'" and for framing men as "a weak creature" and masculinity as "superfluous."

Canaan additionally called the movement "anti-nationalist, anti-Jewish, anti-masculinity, anti-excellence and anti-power," as well as "a secret agent for progressivism." It is unclear if his party's leader shares his views.