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Yeruham and Ramat Hanegev Fellows Explore Stories of Distant but Familiar Places

The Eilat retreat examined leadership initiatives designed to influence and change reality, and enabled fellows to learn about the work of fellows of the parallel Mandel leadership program in Eilat-Eilot

In late November 2017, the fellows of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership in Yeruham and Ramat Hanegev participated in a retreat in Eilat in which they explored leadership initiatives designed to influence and change reality, and discovered how leaders create vision, formulate goals, and plan interventions.

Over the course of the retreat, the fellows from Yeruham and Ramat Hanegev were introduced to the activities and work of fellows of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership in Eilat–Eilot, which is held in a region that is geographically remote from them but has very similar challenges. An encounter with the members of the Eilat-Eilot group allowed fellows of both programs to examine the similarities and differences between the realities in which they operate.

Off Grid Village

The fellows visited several initiatives that departed from the stereotypical images of Eilat as a tourist resort and of the area surrounding it as an empty wilderness. These included the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, where the fellows learned about the institute’s educational-social model, and Off-Grid Village, an enterprise that combines a museum, model village, and laboratory for testing culturally-adapted solutions for communities around the world that are not connected to infrastructure.

The fascinating meeting with the Eilat-Eilot fellows involved sharing and discussion of what was familiar and foreign to both groups. Together with the Eilat-Eilot fellows and the graduates of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership Development in Eilat, which took place during the years 2007-2009, the participants attended a performance of the play Yerma by Moonlight by the Elad Theater, a local theater group from Kibbutz Eilot, which was presented on the pathways of the kibbutz. After the performance, there was a discussion with the theater’s founders and artists.

The second day of the retreat was devoted to learning about Eilat’s tourist initiatives, as the participants met with two of the Eilat-Eilot fellows, Omer Armoza and Yaniv Balchesan, at the Dolphin Reef. This was followed by a meeting with Shimon Biton, a graduate of the Mandel leadership program in Eilat and the founder of the pre-army “mechina” program at Be'er Ora.