Geographically, economically and politically isolated from the country’s centre, the Upper Galilee Panhandle (Etzba HaGalil) is challenged by a lack of jobs, infrastructure and opportunity. Security has often been a challenge for the region as well; the area bore the brunt of the 2006 Lebanon War. The large immigrant populations often have difficulty fitting into Israeli society, which puts the many at-risk youth of the region at even more of a disadvantage.
Since the mid-1990s, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver has strategically invested funds to strengthen the region through education and social welfare programs, capital projects and regional development. In particular, Federation has invested in educational and social services projects that address the immediate and long-term needs of the area’s residents, especially youth.
Youth in the region simply do not have the same opportunities as their peers in Central Israel. They struggle exponentially harder to achieve success and break out of the destructive cycles of poverty and underachievement. Nearly 25% of children in the region’s largest city, Kiryat Shmona, are being treated by the city’s welfare department.
Because they don’t have the same opportunities as their peers who live in Central Israel, Beit Vancouver was created to address the challenges faced by local youth. It is an extremely active hub for youth activity in Kiryat Shmona, reaching over 1,300 youth — that’s 65% of the 2,000 youth in the city, compared with the average of 30% for most other cities in the country. When Beit Vancouver first opened, the city saw a dramatic decline in juvenile delinquency, which has held steady since the decline.
Beit Vancouver is now the central location for youth services in the city, and its model of community building is being studied by Israel’s Association of Community Centres to determine how it can be implemented in different communities around the country.
Walk through the halls of Beit Vancouver and you will be moved by the sight of so many young people reaching for their dreams. There are rehearsal rooms full of dancers and musicians. In the computer lab teens repair laptops as part of their tech skills training. Young leaders practice presentations that they will give before City Council. And through a discrete private entrance, at-risk youth and their families enter the building to access professional counselling services.
Inspired by the vision of Arnold and Anita Silber to create a network of support for this thriving youth centre, Friends of Beit Vancouver was established to provide opportunities to recognize the Vancouver families whose generosity funds its ongoing operations and the many programs and services offered there. Thanks to their support, Beit Vancouver is able to evolve in response to the needs of youth and their families, and Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver is able to invest in new programs that address new areas of need. Become a friend of Beit Vancouver today.