Storm over plans to close immigrant absorption center

The Jewish Agency is planning to close down some or all of the activities at the Kfar Saba immigrant absorption center and transfer them to the Ra'anana center, reports But Kfar Saba is gearing up for a fight to keep the center open, with Mayor Yehuda Ben Hamo scheduled to meet agency officials next month to discuss the issue. According to the report, the agency is considering closing down Kfar Saba's Sapir immigrant absorption center as a cost-cutting measure. The center was established in the 1970s and provides subsidized accommodation, job training and other services for immigrants, as well as running a club for lone soldiers. A Jewish Agency spokesman said the organization was currently carrying out a "comprehensive efficiency plan" necessitated by the world economic crisis, and this included changing the functions of absorption centers and transferring their activities to other centers. "In this framework a change will be carried out in the absorption center in Kfar Saba, during the course of which some of its programs will be transferred to other centers," the spokesman said. "The agency is examining the possibility of continuing the activities of the club for lone soldiers... out of awareness of the great importance this club has for lone soldiers in the area." A municipal spokesman said the city had known the center was slated to be closed for some 18 months to allow for renovations there, and the mayor had even welcomed this. But the spokesman said the city had only recently become aware that the agency planned to close the center down entirely. Ben Hamo said that closing the center would be "a severe blow" for immigrant absorption in his city, and said the decision was "unreasonable and incorrect." The report said Ben Hamo would meet with agency officials next month to demand the cancellation of the decision.