Robert Marmor, executive director of Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts was one of six social workers to participate in a professional exchange in Afula and the Gilboa region of Israel in June. The trip was sponsored by the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC), comprised of a total of twelve Jewish Federations from Connecticut and Massachusetts. SNEC supports people-to-people programs between southern New England and Afula/Gilboa, its partner region in northern Israel. Social workers, from both sides of the globe, toured, experienced and learned about each other’s social service programs over the course of the stay.
Eshel Fram, Regional Director and Orit Ancselovits, Operations Coordinator of the Afula/Gilboa Partnership 2000 Program, orchestrated a comprehensive visit to a myriad of agencies and organizations in the region, including an overview of national and local demographics regarding population, economics, and the structure of governance of Afula’s Social Services.
“The level of professional exchange and the opportunities to create lasting collegial relationships far exceeded our expectations,” said Marmor, who acted as coordinator for the SNEC group.
The group paid a visit to the Woolf Children and Parents Center, a government funded agency serving children of all ages and their families. They also toured the Dorot BaGilboa Senior Service Center in Gilboa, which assists both able and disabled senior populations with transportation to and from the center, lunch programs, art and therapy programs, discussion forums, and exercise activities, as well as the Givat Hamoreh Women to Women Center, one of 10 rape crisis centers in Israel, established five years ago with the help of the UJA/Federation Westport-Weston-Wilton-Norwalk. The trip also included visits to the Emek Medical Center, where the social workers learned about the program in the Post Traumatic Stress Unit and the extensive therapy they provide to the Holocaust survivor population; The Emunah Children’s Center, a daycare and residential facility serving over 120 underprivileged children at risk, was toured next; and the Youth Futures Program at a public school in Afula. This innovative program partners mentors with children at risk for 3 to 5 years, supporting them through the public education system. The final visit was to the Ethiopian absorption center, run and operated in part with the government and currently serving 360 new immigrants.