Representatives from the Calgary Jewish Federation participated in a moving inauguration ceremony of the newly opened computer center in the village of Yesod Hama'ala in the Galilee Panhandle at the beginning of June 2007. The idea to establish a computer center in the village was presented by local leaders to representatives of the Calgary Jewish Federation during a visit to Yesod Hama'ala over a year ago. One of the first five settlements established in Israel, in 1883, Yesod Hama'ala has fallen on hard times.
Recently faced with a leadership and economic crisis, Yesod Hama'ala's town could no longer provide services for its citizens, and its community center had been closed for quite a while, reopening only shortly before the visit. Half of its children no longer attend the local elementary school, instead attending other schools scattered throughout the region. Its teens also attend various high schools in the region. Thus, the community's youngsters didn't get to know each other, and there was no sense of communal belonging or responsibility. Last summer's war only compounded the difficulties facing the village.
The Calgary Jewish community, along with the other UIA-Canada communities including Winnipeg and Atlantic-Halifax, the Sacta-Rashi Foundation, the Israel Venture Network, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco and Partnership 2000 of the Jewish Agency - all partners in the BeYachad education initiative - pledged their assistance to programs drawn up by the local community that would address Yesod Hama'ala's problems. A major element of these programs was an ambitious one - the establishment of a computer room that would provide services for children, adolescents and adults, and serve to unify the community, via a community wide newspaper, a documentation project linking the generations, etc.
On Thursday, June 14, 2007, in a very moving and significant ceremony, visitors from Calgary helped affix the mezuzah on the doorpost of the brand-new computer room, and were the first to boot up the computers. Calgary representatives were: Marilyn Libin, Lenny Shapiro, Laura Martin, Donna Riback, Myrna Linder, and Lance Davis. They watched a Power Point program describing the organizational efforts underway, and the plans for utilizing the computers to help unify the community. Some of the pictures included showed young Canadian volunteers who had help clear the room and set it up for the computers only a few months ago.
The visitors from Calgary were also very impressed by the local youngsters whom they met, representatives of the local cadre of future leaders, who will be using the computers and are eager to start training as junior counsellors. During the past year, as many people remarked during the visit, a palpable change has taken place in the community. A new Community Board has met for the first time, and begun to outline future plans. The most tangible and visible achievement of this partnership in Yesod Hama'ala is the computer room. As the community center director, Liat Bar-Noy Fleishman remarked, it is really "A dream come true".