Lior and Itamar

Over the past two years the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas has supported the project and helped bring about positive changes in the realities of life in Western Galilee.

One of the cultural foundations of Israeli culture is "continued giving". Each day multiple projects sprout up all over Israel, some of which involve a long cycle of giving followed by the 'givers' passing it forward to other who continue the chain of giving.

The Choosing Galilee project is a wonderful example of such a project.

Due to the growing shortage of doctors in the north, the Choosing Tomorrow in Western Galilee project rewards medical students who opt to study at the northern branch of Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Medicine, located in Zefat. In exchange for a study scholarship, the students integrate into community projects and donate their time for the sake of others in need. The students are free to choose any organization they feel that can contribute to the community in the best possible way.

Over the past two years the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas has supported the project and helped bring about positive changes in the realities of life in Western Galilee.

This time we've chosen to tell you about a pair of fifth-year medical students (out of 18 scholarship recipients) who decided to contribute to the community by working with at-risk youth. Lior Faintuch and Itamar Krieger, both fathers and originally from the north, pounced on the opportunity to fulfill their dream and become doctors. They returned to the north and began their intensive medical studies. The two chose to volunteer in the framework of activity in the Nirim Association.


The Nirim Association operates the Nirim Youth Village for at-risk youth, located along the Mediterranean shore between Akko and Nahariya. The Association grants the youths the opportunity—occasionally the last one they have—to rejoin and become a part of mainstream Israeli society. The Association's name, 'Nirim', is in honor of the late Nir Kreechman, a soldier who was killed in a hand to hand battle with terrorists in Nablus in 2002. His commander and army buddies established the Nirim Association which presently operates a challenging therapeutic program for youths based on a unique model. The program's target population consists of youths who have dropped out from the traditional education system and are on the verge of being placed in a detention center for minors. The program is aimed at personally developing the youths and empowering their abilities.

Over the past six years the Dallas-Western Galilee Partnership has supported Nirim as part of its involvement in improving quality of life in Western Galilee.

Thanks to the Nirim Association, six cohorts of at-risk youths have been given control of their lives again, recruited into the IDF, and begun their adult lives on equal footing with their mainstream peers—with a tremendous sense of self-competence and armed with an invaluable moral compass of values.

The first meetings of Lior and Itamar with the kids were dedicated to getting acquainted with them and integrating into their closed group. After a great many conversations and activities, the two gained their trust and were accepted as part of the group. That done, Lior and Itamar were able to lead an activity of their own, one that combines their expertise gained from their studies and provides added value to participants in the group.

They chose to lead an activity that taught the youths CPR and first aid with the help of special training dolls that the two medical students brought in. Through the activity the youths were trained in important life-saving techniques.

Teaching CPR for the Nirim Association



Teaching CPR for the Nirim Association

This was the first cooperative effort between three projects – Choosing Galilee and the Galilee Medical Center (Nahariya Hospital), both under the auspices of the Jewish Agency and the Dallas-Western Galilee Partnership, and the Nirim Association. Lior and Itamar felt like pioneers arriving to a desert and laying the groundwork for new and valuable initiatives.

"We entered an extremely intensive organization with a very cramped schedule aimed at changing thinking patterns among at-risk youths. Integrating was a slow process but once it happened, the kid's expression of happiness from the most recent activities made it all worthwhile. We hope that someone comes after us in order to pick up the reins, further develop the connection we've begun, and bring things to the next stage"

~ Lior Faintuch




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23 Jul 2019 / 20 Tamuz 5779 0