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Facilitating Dialogue with Haredi Residents in Beit Shemesh

“Dialogue” is the Only Long-term Solution” says Natan Sharansky

By: Joshua Berkman
Published: January 30th, 2012 in News » World

In light of the recent spate of violent incidents and tensions in Beit Shemesh, the Jewish communities of Greater Washington and South Africa will support Jewish Agency programs aimed at encouraging dialogue and cooperation between the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) residents and the broader Beit Shemesh community.

The Jewish communities of Greater Washington and South Africa are sister communities with Beit Shemesh and central Israel’s Mateh Yehuda region via the Jewish Agency’s partnership program, Partnership2Gether. Each year, 300,000 residents of 600 Jewish communities throughout the world and 90 regions throughout Israel engage in vast range of exchange programs, forming a living, localized link between the Jewish world and Israel and promoting projects dedicated to strengthening Israeli society.

Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said, “There is only one long-term solution – dialogue. We are one people and cannot keep ignoring one another. Israeli society can and must bring those who resort to violence to justice, but the long-term solution does not rest with law enforcement. At the end of the day, all the different communities and segments of the Jewish people and of Israeli society must learn to communicate with one another. That’s why the Jewish Agency, with communities around the world and in Israel, is investing in innovative programs developed by the communities themselves to help bring them closer to one another and strengthen us all.”

In recent days, the Greater Washington and South Africa partnership in Beit Shemesh has published announcements in the local Israeli press calling on the general public to submit proposals for dialogue and cooperation-- programs that support the vision of Beit Shemesh as a city belonging to all its resident communities. The goal is to offer financial support to “ideas of lasting influence on the city, which will encourage moderates in the various communities to raise their voices, and which will lead to measurable results.”

The Jewish Agency has been engaged in projects in Beit Shemesh aimed at promoting unity and empowering the different communities in the city in recent years. Recently, the partnership hosted a conference of Haredi women entrepreneurs to help them promote their businesses with the Kiryat Gat Entrepreneurship Development Center. Through the Jewish Agency’s school twinning program kids in Beit Shemesh and the Mateh Yehuda region connect to their peers in the Greater Washington and South Africa Jewish communities. The Haredi Employment Program offers training and job placement services to ultra-Orthodox individuals in Beit Shemesh interested in joining the workforce.

Related articles: Beit Shemesh, Washington, South Africa, Jewish Agency, Mateh Yehuda, Partnership2Gether, Israel, Natan Sharansky
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