The Vision of the KKL–JNF Heritage Centers

As part of its work, continuous since its founding in 1901, KKL–JNF is pursuing further educational and social involvement and advancing the youth and communities of the Israeli periphery toward the implementation of their potential while strengthening their sense of competence and of belonging, by establishing KKL–JNF heritage centers. The centers provide educational programs in patriotism and local geography, empowerment, leadership, and sustainable settlement of the land, with the help of 21st-century skills.

The KKL–JNF Heritage Centers — Focusing on Education in the Periphery

The KKL–JNF heritage centers, a socio-educational project of the KKL–JNF, were launched for the purpose of narrowing the gaps between the center and periphery and granting all Israel's students an equal opportunity for a better future. Under this project, some nine heritage centers are currently being established in selected towns of the periphery. The centers are interdisciplinary spaces operating in both formal and informal educational spheres.
 
The heritage centers are a platform providing an innovative and inspiring educational environment for youngsters — the speedy, digital Generation Z. The content presented to them is chosen with their cooperation and with the goal of giving them the 21st-century life skills and proficiencies relevant to the modern age, while educating for Zionist values. The interdisciplinary activity at the KKL–JNF heritage centers includes many courses in these areas:
  • Patriotism and geography of the Land of Israel
  • Empowerment
  • Leadership
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Settling the Land of Israel

The KKL–JNF heritage centers encourage the youngsters and the community to identify with Zionist values, to serve meaningfully in the IDF or in a national-service program, and to pursue academic studies. In addition, the centers host lectures, run enrichment programs, and provide for activities on the part of youth movements and municipal youth groups at standards unprecedented in Israel.

Among the nine KKL–JNF heritage centers throughout the Israeli periphery, the pioneer is the center that opened in January 2018 in Nof HaGalil (Nazareth Illit) in the presence of Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, KKL–JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar, and Mayor Ronen Plott. Another KKL–JNF heritage center opened in Kiryat Malachi in September 2020. The center was donated by JNF UK. Seven more centers are in the planning and construction stages around Israel's periphery.

At the KKL–JNF heritage centers in Nof HaGalil and Kiryat Malachi, hundreds of young people from the town and its vicinity enjoy spirited activity during the year. They report stronger feelings of competency, of belonging to the town, and of willingness to be recruited for significant service, and they receive tools for 21st-century success. During the morning, the center also serves other target populations for the advancement of the society and the community.
According to Avi Mussan, the Director for Education and Community, "We believe that every young person has the potential for achievement, irrespective of where in the country they were born. Our job is to provide them with the resources and the set of values that are required. The KKL–JNF heritage centers are open to every young person who wants to succeed, and we will help them in every way to develop self-competence. That support is unique, and today there is nothing else similar in the State of Israel."

It should be noted that all the units of KKL–JNF are contributing, in the most professional manner, to the founding of the heritage centers, and cooperating with the appropriate municipalities and local councils for the sake of the project's success.

KKL–JNF Heritage Center at Nof HaGalil

The Nof HaGalil center is located on the city's Atzmon Street, in a building that long ago served as a youth community center and that subsequently served as a center for new immigrants. The establishment of the heritage center was made possible by a donation from the friends of KKL–JNF in France and worldwide. The activity was carried out in cooperation with the municipality of Nof HaGalil (Nazareth Illit) and the municipal educational authority.

The three-story building, all adapted to be accessible for people with disabilities, includes an open area on the ground floor, classrooms on the upper floors, a computer lab, an auditorium for films and lectures, and offices for the administrator and the educational coordinators. A special area of the building is designated for leisure and social activities. It includes seating corners, video games, and space for social events. The center's design is modern and youthful, with merry colors, murals, and a variety of technological devices to help train the youngsters in 21st-century skills. The outer wall of the structure is decorated with a large mural— nine meters high — by painter Hillel Lazarov. In this way, an old center for immigrants has been transformed into an attractive and modern building.

Activities at the center include study assistance for students in 10th to 12th grade in order to improve their matriculation results. Under the plan, studies are held in small classes, with professional teachers and with personal guidance from counselors. The center also advances informal learning in the town, and it holds social activities, enrichment lectures, and programs for strengthening values and increasing community involvement. The director of the Nof HaGalil (Nazareth Illit) KKL–JNF Heritage Center, Omer Harpaz, calls the project "the young people's university."

The neighborhood around the first KKL–JNF Heritage Center is populated mostly by new immigrants who benefit from a variety of absorption services and from a bustling commercial center. The neighborhood and the building are easily accessible by public transportation. A cypress tree at the entrance to the KKL–JNF Heritage Center was planted by immigrants from Russia. KKL–JNF looks after the tree, which symbolizes the roots that the new immigrants are forming in Nof HaGalil.

Since the start of operations, more than 150 youngsters have registered at the KKL– JNF Heritage Center, each according to the areas in which he or she wishes to improve. The first months of operation are defined as a running-in period of learning and development, which will benefit the other KKL– JNF centers due to open.