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.
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.
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.