Who We Are:

Pnima Israel is a project of Eretz-Ir, a non profit that works to enrich peripheral cities through community development and entrepreneurial advancements. Translating to “Nation-City,” the Eretz-Ir mission is to enrich cities in Israel’s periphery in a way which will lead to a better quality of life, showing people that the periphery is a viable and desirable option when choosing where to live.

Using the power of grassroots organizations, community activism, and social entrepreneurship, we help tourists from Israel and abroad understand the challenges facing the periphery and connect with activists creating change. 

In August 2017, we proudly partnered with the Negev Development Authority, a leading organization in creating positive changes in the Negev. 

 

The Challenge:

Educational tourism to Israel for groups from abroad has been in effect since the State was created.  The goals of the trip are similar to the goals of programs coming today, to strengthen the connection of the participants to Israel, as a modem vibrant Jewish Democracy and to strengthen their connection to their Jewish identity.  What has changed significantly are the participants themselves, what they are looking for and how they connect to Israel and their Jewish identity.

This is where Pnima enters the picture, Pnima offers experiential tours together with unfiltered access to mission driven communities across the geo-periphery of Israel.  The tours allow for meaningful interaction and an opportunity to learn about the complexity of Israeli society via the prism of social engagement and social action by mission driven community members and social entrepreneurs.

Mission driven communities take the Zionist values and show how they can be accommodated to the 21st century western lifestyle that is Israel today.  Their personal stories show their success as well as their worries, failures and dreams, this aspect is the foundation of all our programs.  The opportunity to explore the world of mission riven communities serves as a model for critical thinking that leads to creative solutions to societal ills that serves sustainable local social change.

Participants from abroad live in a world full of information, but often when it comes to Israel their knowledge is surface level and often focuses heavily on the conflict.  The role of social tourism is to expose them to societal issues facing average Israelis and include them in the conversation taking place across the country.  This becomes evident when looking at the PEW studies that took place in Israel and the US, when asked what the biggest long term challenge facing Israelis was.  A meaningful encounter with young Israelis working on behalf of a more just and equal society will give the participants the tools to dig deeper and strengthen their connection to modern vibrant and complex Israeli society.

*Mission driven communities are comprised of men and women committed to the future of Israeli society.  They have chosen to make their homes in the geographical and social periphery of Israel in order to create meaningful and long lasting grassroots social change in their local communities.

Goals of the program:

The goal is to expose participants to the social action work being done via an experiential program.  Participants will learn how mission driven communities offer a different approach to social change, rather than donating or giving from an external place, mission driven communities choose to live in the areas effected and work together with local residents to create sustainable change. Additionally, by visiting communities in the periphery, the narrative that accompanies the periphery will become more complex and from a place of barrenness comes a story of social innovation and local impact.

Methodology:

The methodology changes with each community but the core remains the same. Every visit includes an experiential program that brings the participants in contact with a challenge facing Israeli society and via a community members’ personal story, participants will hear about the creative work being done and have the chance to ask thoughtful and incisive questions on the role of communities in local change.

 

Who we are:

Gabe Axler is originally from Chicago and has worked in the field of informal Israel education and educational tourism for 10 years.  He has a B.A. in History from Binghamton University and an M.A. from Spertus College in Jewish Professional Studies.  In 2010, he made Aliyah with his wife and was a founding member of the mission driven community Kehillat Beerot in Be’er Sheva. He is the proud father of Sela and Hadar and when he is not working on bringing groups to communities across Israel he enjoys, hiking, reading and playing basketball.

Our Guides

Adir Ben Tuvim

Adir Ben Tuvim is 31 and lives in Lod.  He oversees the student mission driven communities in the city and facilitates groups of all kinds on the complex situation in Israel.  He established Vahavta, a LGBTQ friendly Beit Midrash and works on the project ‘Pride in the Home’ where LGBTQ community members tell their coming out stories and about their life in modern Israel.

Amal Abu Alkom

Amal Abu Alkom is originally from the unrecognized village of Wadi Nam and moved to Segev Shalom 18 years ago.  She is married with a daughter and is the founder of the non-profit ‘Bedouin Women for Themselves’ and the mission driven community ‘Hand in Hand in Segev Shalom.  She received the prestigious Yafe-London-Yaari prize in 2013 for women who are breaking barriers for creating the non-profit and social business that employs elderly Bedouin women in her community.

Itzik Krispel

 

Itzik Krispel was born and raised in Ofakim and is a social entrepreneur and community activist.  He is the chairman and founder of the mission driven community of ‘Ahuzat Hanegev’ a community and non-profit aimed at grassroots social change through empowering the residents of Ofakim and the Negev in order to create sustainable and long lasting change.  He created the website and online portal for news and updates about Ofakim.

Naomi Efrat

Naomi Efrat was born and raised in Haifa and moven to Be’er Sheva 15 years ago.  She a member of the mission driven community Kama and has been active in social change projects fort he last 13 years.  She is the director and founder of the Reform congregation and community in Be’er Sheva and founded the Mother-Child center in the Ramot neighborhood.

Kobi Trebelsi

Kobi Trebelsi lives in Moshav Shuva on the Gaza border.  He is an artist and works in the field of informal education, has a open mind and warm heart.  He has experience in many fields, he led a circus in Bulgaria, a comedy troupe in Switzerland and goes to Uman every Rosh Hashana to reenergize his heart and mind.  He has 35 years of experience working with groups on personal and communal growth.

Azaria Patego

Azaria Patego was born in the village of Marbeh near the city of Gondar in in Northern Ethiopia, to a family of farmers and artisans.  He moved with his family to Israel at the age of 10, studied in the religious Zionism educational system and enlisted in the paratroopers brigade as part of the Hesder program.  He has a B.A. in Education and an M.A. in Rabbinic Literature, he is a certified group facilitator, he lives in Kiryat Gat with his wife and 5 children.

Jamal Al Krinawi

Jamal Al Krinawi is a social activist born and raised in Rahat.  He is the CEO and founder of the non-profit ‘A New Dawn’ in Rahat.  He is a visionary and the non-profit is an extension of his beleif that by improving the educational system from the bottom up the Bedouin community can thrive. In 2014 he received the coveted Recanati-Kop-Rashi prize for entrepeneurship in the field of social work.  He has a B.A in Public Health Administration an M.A. in Social Work and an MBA in Social Leadership.

Lea Tinomi

בעלת תשובה, mom, lives in Mallot. Comes from the world of alternative medicine, loves art, nature and human encounters. Invites you to a fascinating encounter with a special community in the process of “back home ולישראליות.” Artists therapists, musicians and sweet people in the journey of life. We welcome you to a fascinating conversation and a selection of workshops – art, music playback, gardening.