JERUSALEM (Mar. 11)
The future success of Project Renewal lies with direct ties between slum neighborhoods in Israel and grass root Jewish communities in the United States which “adopt” the neighborhoods and lobby on their behalf with Israeli government and Jewish Agency officials, according to Prof. Daniel Elazar, president of the Jerusalem State and Public Center.
So far, the partnership between diaspora Jews and the residents of some 80 neighborhoods badly in need of rehabilitation has been very successful, Elazar told a press conference here today. He summed up the findings of a survey that traced the progress of Project Renewal during the five years since its inception.
Project Renewal was established as a partnership undertaking between Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world and the government and Jewish Agency. In addition to regular funds raised for Israel through the United Jewish Appeal in North America and the Keren Hayesod in other countries, a special fund is allocated for the slum clearance and other activities of Project Renewal.
The survey indicated that during the five years of the Project, ties with the Jewish establishment abroad have weakened and so has the financial assistance. The survey recommended closer relations with grassroots Jews. “One can no longer rely on connections with the men on top only,” Elazar said.
He observed that the project must provide Jewish communities overseas the opportunity to maintain personal relations with Israelis who are not policy-makers in order to preserve the initial success.
“The two parties have signed a kind of pact, and diaspora Jews have contributed to determining the future of those neighborhoods,” Elazar said. By lobbying on behalf of the neighborhood, they have managed to cut through red tape. “This would not have happened without the partnership,” Elazar said.