Hamitham, a complex that offers residential units and space for cultural events and social and commercial entrepreneurship for young adults in Arad, was inaugurated on May 13 in the presence of Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum, Arad Mayor Tali Ploskov and Jewish Agency officials.
Nili Surkis-Shalev, the originator of the idea for the complex and its director, and a graduate of the Arad local leadership program of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, spoke of her dream of creating a complex with affordable housing for Arad's young community which would encourage its members to be active locally and help them establish themselves there.
Surkis-Shalev, an Arad resident, located an abandoned Jewish Agency building there and worked over the past few years to obtain support and arrange joint programs with government agencies (including the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and the Interior Ministry), social and philanthropic organizations and the Arad municipality. The building underwent extensive renovations and now houses 112 affordable residential units (most of which are already occupied), the municipal youth center's premises, a communal garden, a cafe and more. The space will host cultural events and community programs to promote encounters among the local young community and will offer guidance and counseling in a wide range of areas including higher education, employment, professional training and others.
Surkis-Shalev says the Mandel program was for her "a process of delving inside myself, to find out what I want to do with my life - what I want to develop and where I would like to go. It prompted me to ask questions about myself and about my connection to the city and working with the third sector."
Arad Mayor Tali Ploskov welcomed the creation of Hamitham and said the complex is an important component of the effort to encourage young people to remain in Arad, develop new communities and attract more young people to the city.