Beit Shemesh - Mateh Yehuda - South Africa

The What and Why of Partnership

Our Partnership connects Israelis living in Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda with Jews living in South Africa. Through face to face meetings and exchanges, we learn about each other's sense of identity, share successes and challenges in building community, develop an appreciation for diversity, learn how events in Israel affect Jews overseas and vice versa, and explore ways of helping each other with our challenges. Through these activities, we seek to promote mutual understanding, cohesion and inspiration.


We belong to a global network of 46 Partnerships, whose purpose is to be the central platform for the promotion of such cohesion among Jewish communities.


How we Operate

Our activities are based on two mutually reinforcing legs: People to People and Community Building. People to people creates connections between the communities in Israel and in South Africa through face to face encounters, exchange programs and long term relationships. Community building efforts provide content and inspiration on which to base the connections. Community building currently involves leadership development, educational activities, dialog and coexistence initiatives, and health and wellness.  


The Beit Shemesh – Mateh Yehuda region and its population

  • Our region serves as a rural oasis between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
  • This is where Samson lived, and where David fought Goliath.
  • Mateh Yehuda is a regional council comprised of 57 rural communities – mostly moshavim and kibbutzim – with 46,000 residents. Beit Shemesh is home to some 100,000 people. It is a fast growing region boasting a vibrant mix of veterans and newcomers, a mosaic of languages and ethnic traditions, and a wide range of religious observances. Approximately 1/3 of the region's population are Haredi. 


Partnership Activity Highlights

  • Over 200 visitors from South Africa visit our region every year
  • Israeli educators, teens, community leaders and social activists bring inspiring stories from Israel to hundreds of counterparts in South Africa every year
  • Six Jewish schools from SA are paired with six Israeli schools in our region. This school twinning platform engages over 40 educators and hundreds of children with each other and with Jewish Peoplehood every year
  • We have supported over 10 initiatives involving hundreds of people in bridge-building between Haredi communities and other communities in Beit Shemesh. We also support initiatives bringing Jews and Arabs together in Mateh Yehuda.
  • Hundreds of women from our region have taken part in various empowerment, entrepreneurship, and business development courses over the years.
  • Our community building activities helped establish the wine route, a network of over 30 wineries; nurtured the development of cycling infrastructure that draws in cyclists from all over the country; and created the first regional artist's forum
  • Our leadership programs include Diller Teen Fellows and Maccabim