Atidim: Education for All Israelis

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Even as a child, Nahumi Hay wanted to make a difference in his community. He wanted to go to college so he could work in local government.

However, growing up in Israel’s southern periphery, hurdles like generational poverty and education funding inequity made him question whether he could achieve such a future.

But thanks to Jewish Federation-supported Atidim, that’s exactly what he did: Bachelor’s degree in hand, Hay recently became Netivot’s deputy director of public works.


Founded in 2000 by Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz and Israeli industrialist Eitan Wertheimer, Atidim helps close the socioeconomic gap between the periphery (far north or south of the country’s urban center) and the center of Israel by putting higher education within reach.

Israeli students taking part in an Atidim program. (Photos provided)

Based on the notion that the periphery’s high-performing students are among Israel’s greatest resources, Atidim works with students as young as 13 years old, providing them with the tools, experience and opportunities they need to flourish in their schools and communities.

Each year’s 150-plus enrollees, called cadets, account for the top 30 percent of students in peripheral regions and disadvantaged communities. In high school, Atidim cadets participate in advanced studies, self-esteem building activities and experiential introductions to higher education and high-tech industries. Once enrolled in college, students are provided a four-year scholarship, private lessons, job interview preparation, a living stipend and a laptop — allowing them to devote their full attention to their studies.

After college, Atidim then works closely with cadets to help them land upwardly mobile jobs in the periphery, where graduates commit to serving in local public service for at least three years. Atidim graduates help invigorate their home communities both through their work and by serving as role models — like Hay, who leading a solar energy project to renovate Netivot’s older neighborhoods. Said Hay of the project — and perhaps of his own journey — “Creating change with something that comes from nothing is quite amazing.”

To support the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s work, which makes an invaluable impact on vulnerable populations in Israel, visit jewishphilly.org/donate.

And our Jewish Federation communities help Atidim in more ways than one: Our past Men’s Mission alumni were so touched by the program that they recently created the Mark Fishman Atidim Scholarship Fund to a sponsor an Atidim student in the TAKEOFF program. The selected student will receive a four-year scholarship, a living stipend, academic support and a laptop if he or she is accepted to the faculty of civil and environmental engineering at Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology.

Additionally, Atidim has other targeted initiatives like the TAKEOFF program providing highly motivated lone immigrant soldiers with wide-ranging support and ensures that they are able to build their futures in Israel.

TAKEOFF ensures a soft landing into civilian life and a direct path to higher education and a career in high tech or industry. Upon acceptance to college in the engineering or sciences, TAKEOFF provides these former lone soldiers, now lone students, with a four-year tuition scholarship, a critical monthly living stipend, tutoring, guidance, empowerment activities and a laptop computer. This helps them to stand on their feet, adjust to demanding college life and focus on their studies, rather than struggle for their day-to-day existence. The 80 TAKEOFF students must maintain a minimum annual GPA of 80 to continue in the program. The TAKEOFF coordinator is in constant contact with the students to make sure that they have everything they need, and to assist them in dealing with any challenges that arise.

Kol hakavod, guys.

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