Gvanim: A Force for Broad Social Change in Israel
The Gvanim Program Network develops leaders who are creating a more democratic and pluralistic Israel
Last summer’s social protests echoed the growing differences within Israeli society. Protesters engaged in a struggle that could reshape the future character and soul of the country. The JCF’s very own Gvanim (meaning ‘hues’ in Hebrew) program works to strengthen Israel’s democracy by creating a cadre of leaders to spread the message of Jewish pluralism to ever-widening circles of Israelis. Of the hundreds that apply, fifteen professionals, representing every religious and economic sector of Israeli society, are selected to participate in a year-long educational and leadership development program. The culmination of the program is a visit to San Francisco, where participants are introduced to the Bay Area’s diverse expressions of Jewish religion and culture.This year’s Gvanim cohort will be in S.F. from May 6-9th.
Gvanim action programs are having a significant impact on Israeli society
Picture this: It’s sundown on Friday, and 800 secular Israelis (who wouldn’t ordinarily step into a synagogue) are singing Kabbalat Shabbat prayers on a Tel Aviv beach. This action project, Beit Tfila Yisraeli (The Israeli House of Prayer), was started by four Gvanim alumni passionate about reconnecting Israelis who had lost touch with their Jewish identity and values. Today, Beit Tfila engages hundreds of young Tel Avivians in an array of community events, study sessions, and social action programs. Beit Tefila has become a model and source of inspiration for an additional 20 communities of this type, all over the country.
This is just one example of how hundreds of Gvanim alumni have touched thousands of lives, making their mark and creating social change that is broad, deep, and essential for the strength of Israeli society.