Detroit, Netanya and JDC: Working Together to Strengthen the Local Ethiopian-Israeli Community
In September 2001, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit entered into a new partnership relationship with JDC and the city of Netanya in an effort to improve the educational opportunities of the local Ethiopian-Israeli community.
Parents and Children Together (PACT) is a comprehensive, strategic, city-wide intervention program in Netanya that seeks to provide comprehensive educational projects and services for Ethiopian-Israeli pre-schoolers by focusing not only on the child, but also on the family, the community and the local professionals who shape these early years. In addition to working closely with the local municipality and other non-profit organizations, the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Netanya plays a central role in planning and implementing the innovative, community-based approach, which PACT embodies. PACT seeks to reach each and every one of the over 1,100 Ethiopian-Israeli children (birth to six) in the city and provides them with the necessary literacy skills, support, and enrichment experiences to prepare them to enter first grade on an equal level with their veteran Israeli peers.
Beyond a simple funding relationship, PACT and the other programs will directly involve professional and lay members of the Detroit community in an ongoing and intensive manner through professional exchanges, mission visits, and committee involvement with lay and professional leaders in Netanya.
Included among the programs initiated and sponsored by the PACT partnership in Netanya are:
- Placement in pre-school frameworks for each and every Ethiopian-Israeli child
- Direct home-intervention assistance for the most distressed families
- Promoting better nutrition, health care, and parenting skills
- Professional training for early childhood educators from the community
- A wide-range of cultural and social enrichment activities for the child and family including music classes, science stations, summer day camps, field trips, holiday celebrations, and scholarships for extra-curricular programs.
Some of the PACT programs include:
- Literacy Enrichment in Classrooms
- PACT provides for literacy specialists to work in small groups and on an individual basis in local kindergarten classrooms to help Ethiopian-Israeli students to develop the emergent literacy skills necessary for entering first grade. Creative activities focus on the developmental aspects of written and oral communication.
- Adult Literacy Programs
- As part of the community programs that PACT supports, Ethiopian parents will participate in creative Hebrew classes that emphasize basic conversational, reading and writing skills, learning about Israeli society and cultural norms and raising awareness about what their children are learning in their preschool and kindergarten frameworks.
- New Kat-Gan Pre-School Framework
- PACT is opening new “Mini-Kindergartens” for 1 ½ to 3 year olds who were not previously participating in any other day setting. The 5-day-a-week program provides an enriching and stimulating educational environment for the children, while at the same time, enabling their mothers to participate in other PACT programs like Hebrew literacy, parenting groups and more.
- Ethiopian Educational Liaisons
- PACT is enabling for Ethiopian-Educational liaisons to work in the local kindergarten classrooms. The liaisons serve as the contact person and cultural bridge between the Ethiopian parents and the Kindergarten teachers. The liaisons also expose and educate the teachers and students about Ethiopian culture and monitor that the needs of each Ethiopian child are being met appropriately. PACT also provides the liaisons with regular, ongoing professional training to enhance their skills and develop the appropriate methods to carry out their complex, but essential role.
- Community Enrichment Centers
- PACT provides an accessible, neighborhood-based afternoon activity center that provides educational, cultural, and social enrichment for Ethiopian-Israeli children and their parents. Ethiopian-Israeli instructors and counselors organize regularly scheduled structured, creative, interactive programs and recreational activities including arts and crafts, music and movement, games, and theater.