Triguboff Institute supports Bedouins
“Unusual and outside the square” is how Ron Weiser, Past President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, described the latest Harry Triguboff initiative.
For the last six years, “the Triguboff Institute has been very well-known for its work with Jews from the former Soviet Union, dealing with conversion and dealing with Aliyah”, said Ron Weiser. The most recent initiative of the Triguboff Institute is somewhat of a change in focus, as the project seeks to address the challenges facing the Bedouin community in the Negev desert, in Israel’s south. Nonetheless, similar to the previous projects of the Triguboff Institute, this latest initiative seeks to tackle matters of identity and integration into society – but this time, within Israel itself.
At Sunday’s function at the Vaucluse home of Harry and Rhonda Triguboff in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, inspiring social advocates, in support of the Harry Triguboff initiative, shared their paramount desire to broaden the opportunities for the Bedouin community in Israel. Currently, the Bedouin community is the most socially disadvantaged group in Israel, fraught with a high number of school drop-outs and a 16% unemployment rate. These factors place the Bedouin community at the bottom of Israel’s economic ladder.
Consequently, expanding the vocational horizons for the Israeli Bedouin community, particularly for women, and their participation in the growing economy of the Negev is essential to creating greater social cohesion and equality in Israel.
“We believe that it all starts with the women,” says Shalom Norman, Chief Executive Officer of the Harry Oscar Triguboff Institute. Many young women now learn basic arithmetic at one school in the Negev, as part of the Triguboff initiative. Women who were married at age 16 or 17 learn basic arithmetic, providing them with a degree of independence to handle their budget and finances. “You wouldn’t believe the will amongst them to attend the school,” says Shalom. “It gets them out of their very conservative domain for a couple of hours.”
3000-4000 young women are also employed at the Idan haNegev Industrial Park in the southeast of the Bedouin city of Rahat, Israel. As the first Jewish-Bedouin project of its kind, the 200 factories in the park provide employment for the local Bedouin population. The SodaStream factory, for example, employs about 15 000 workers, serving to dramatically alleviate unemployment in Rafa.
The integration of the Bedouin community into Israeli society is not only beneficial for Bedouins, but of essential importance to the internal security of Israel. Ron Weiser aptly noted that, “if we don’t provide these services to the Bedouin and seek to help the disadvantaged, it will only perpetuate the disadvantage. But also, those who are able to seek education will do so in other places like Hebron and then will return to Israel possibly and probably more radicalised and less wanting to integrate into Israeli society.”
The recognition of the Triguboff initiative on Sunday night was made even more celebratory by the announcement of Harry Triguboff’s 84th birthday. The crowd joyously sang happy birthday to the billionaire residential property developer and philanthropist, acknowledging his enormous generosity of spirit and determination to support the vulnerable and disadvantaged in Israel.