Netuim is a two-year Beit Midrash program of MeMizrach Shemesh consisting of 25 study sessions of 3 hours each that reinforces identity and promotes social leadership for young adults who come from 12 peripheral communities across Israel. These areas include: 12 peripheral cities: Hatzor, Tzfat, Migdal Ha’Emek, Afula, Tiberias, Nazareth Elite, Netanya, Lod, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim, Netivot, and Arad, with 180 student participants. University students each receive a 10,000 NIS scholarship toward their tuition, to assist them in pursuing higher education and are provided tools to become leaders to promote social change.

Netuim students study in a Beit Midrash that uses sources of Sephardic Sages to explore how maintaining Mizrachi traditions and cultural values can help deepen one’s identity and offer leadership tools used by teachers and activists. Netuim students use these tools to promote personal growth and social values to transcend social problems such as poverty and the weakening of the periphery. Forming a personal moral worldview committed to Tikkun Olam (Fixing the World) motivates Netuim students to engage in social action. This is advanced via Netuim leaders each committing to 75 hours of community service per year and who spearhead three social projects on behalf of their respective local communities.

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The activism of Netuim leaders makes an enormous different to young people in Israel’s socio-geographic peripheries who face a myriad of challenges – high unemployment, a dearth of educational opportunities, and lack of services. This has been reinforced by the ‘revolving doors approach’ of short-lived social activism of people from outside of these areas who leave after two years. As a result, people consider these towns as stagnant which make these negative perceptions a reality. This often compels them to abandon their hometowns and seek their futures in the center of Israel which reinforces the weakening of these peripheral communities. In order for Israel’s socio-geographic peripheries to be advanced, it is essential to initially change the sense of value that these areas have. It is critical to promote local leadership within in these communities to provide the next generation of local leaders and entrepreneurs with the incentive to remain in their communities. To this end, Netuim local leaders become powerful agents for social change and development.

Netuim students create numerous projects within their communities catering for hundreds of children, youth and families. An example of this was in 2017, Netuim students ran programs for 65 youth, 20 elderly and 60 children and their parents as well as 1000 community members in the Social Jewish Festival in Ofakim. Ofakim Netuim students created a mobile playground for children that moves daily between various peripheral communities in the north of Israel.

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Social projects have included learning with youths at risk, teaching youths about social responsibility, an exhibition on women’s leadership, and educational sessions with pre-army youths. On Tu B’Shevat, Netuim created a learning program in Ofakim for 30 local youth on the value of connecting to the holiday’s values of ‘Adam Hu Etz Hasadeh’ – ‘Man is a tree of the field’ that entails planting the seeds of personal identity that grow and develop. These projects foster an increased sense of belonging and community and helps plant seeds to ultimately pave the way for greater social and economic mobility.

Our committed partners include:  AVI CHAI Foundation,  Adelis Foundation, Posen Foundation,  Young Adults Centers, The Majorie and Sassoon Peress Scholarship Fund, The Matanel Foundation, Friedman Family Foundation, UJA - Federation of New York, The Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut, Jewish Federation Greater Metrowest, Ministry for the Development of the Negev Galilee, Municipalities throughout the country.