Project Springboard Performs at Kiryat Menachem Yom Yerushalayim Festival

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Children, adults, third-generation Israelis, new immigrants, religious, secular, multiple neighborhoods, three schools , one community center… can all these factors add up to one community?

To anyone who joined in yesterday's Chag Haschunah – Neighborhood Festival in the Ganim community of southwestern Jerusalem, the answer is clearly: yes.

By 4:30 pm when the event was meant to begin, the outdoor courtyard adjoining the community center and two of the local schools was already filled. As more and more families continued streaming up the hill to the festival, there was a stream of bright blue as far as the eye could see – every single child had received an identical Chag Haschunah t-shirt.  So it was that no matter who you were – from Kiryat Menachem or Ir Ganim or Givat Massuah, a student at Guatemala, Reishit or Chabad elementary schools, participant in the dance troupe, basketball team or choir, of Ethiopian, Russian or Moroccan origin – you were sharing the moment with every one of your friends and neighbors, united in celebrating together as part of what has clearly been transformed into a vibrant community.

The Jerusalem Foundation, with the support of the Crown Family Foundation, has invested millions of dollars in the Ganim neighborhoods, as part of its Adopt-a-Neighborhood program, which develops strong community resilience and social solidarity in specific Jerusalem neighborhoods, and through Project Springboard, an initiative to address poverty through education.  Under the auspices of Project Springboard, the Foundation has funded extended school days (2 days per week) in all three local elementary schools, extra hours that are used entirely for enrichment programs. Most of these children could never afford to take classes "just for fun," but now – for the first time – they are utilizing talents they may never have known they had, in dance, singing, gymnastics, computers and sports.

Indeed, the highlight of Chag Haschunah was to be found on the stage, as each enrichment class performed for the entire audience. Everyone present was enthralled by the stellar choir, dance and gymnastics performances presented by students from each school. Their parents shed tears of joy at the opportunities their children can finally enjoy, the boys and girls themselves did their every dance move with the utmost seriousness, the audience cheered with excitement – and a good time was had by all.