SDEROT, ISRAEL, March 29, 2011, 2:30 p.m.– We visited the IBIMVillage, a new program for young immigrants and families from all over the world in cooperation with the kibbutzim of the Gaza region. Here we found young Ethiopians, Russian families, lone soldiers, Israelis who study at the local college and young immigrants, ages 18 to 30, from all over the world, who plan a minimum of five months transitioning into Israeli society.
We met Simone, 22, from Denmark, who had been there only a day. Simone’s father was born inIsrael and she remembers visiting as a child. She learned about the IBIM Village on the Internet.
Her parents were not happy about her moving toIsrael, let alone so close to the Gaza border. Nevertheless, she plans to learn Hebrew as part of the village’s strong ulpan program and eventually get her masters and live in Tel Aviv. She seemed a bit overwhelmed, but said she is determined to overcome the language barrier and make friends.
Alexi, 23, fromFrance, also found theIBIM Village on the Internet and has been here for two weeks. He was tired of the unemployment in his home country and also felt the threat of anti-Semitism. “I would never wear my star of David there,” he said.
Despite the thousands of bombs that fell on and near Sderot between 2001 and 2008, theIBIM Village did not empty out, according to Soni, the director. “There are still a lot of people coming,” she said. “What gives them strength is knowing that world Jewry is behind them.” Currently, there are a total of 300 residents living in the village.
Soni, however, did show us the remains of two missiles that landed in the village – grim reminders of the past and reason to be vigilant in the future. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured by the bombs. And the attitudes here were undeterred as well as reflected by the beautiful murals painted on the bomb shelters throughout the village.
Once again, we’re reminded of the remarkable determination and sense of optimism inIsrael in the face of adversity.
Said Soni: “Our focus is on the young people and their future.”