The Israel Asper Community Action Centre – Ramot – Jerusalem, Israel
In June 2007, The Asper Foundation, Jewish National Fund of Canada and the Jerusalem Foundation funded the establishment of The Israel Asper Community Action Centre in a Ramot, a suburb of Jerusalem, Israel. The centre is named to honour the memory of Dr. Israel Asper, z”l, Founder of The Asper Foundation, who passed away on October 7, 2003. It is operated by the Ramot Community Centre organization. This is the fourth centre to be established, along with the Winnipeg Community Action Centre in Be’er Sheva, the Israel Asper Community Action Centre in Ofaqim and the Israel Asper Community Action Centre in Migdal Ha’emek.
Each of the centres offer similar programs and activities and provide supplementary educational programs geared towards disadvantaged youth to help ensure they achieve their optimal level of education through combining technology-oriented education with instruction on leadership skills, heritage and Zionism.
Focusing on closing the technological gap and strengthening disadvantaged groups, the Asper Computer Centre in its first three years has provided computer-oriented training and programming for close to 1,000 residents of Ramot. The computer centre offers a wide-breadth of activities ranging from computer camps to robotics, special needs classes and social activities for youth and young adults, computer classes for immigrant women, and courses for seniors focusing on brain stimulation.
The centre’s landmark program is a one-of-a-kind, three-year course, targeting grade nine-age students who have dropped out of school. Through intensive work and individual support, the program helps to build self-confidence, provides students with Cisco Advanced Systems certification as professional computer technicians, enables further development of skills in the computer lab, provides an opportunity to give back to the community and helps students become contributing members of society.
Another key component of the centre is the Generation to Generation (Tree of Life) project for immigrant youth. In this one-year oral history program, youth interview elderly immigrants from local seniors’ homes, create a computerized family tree, document their life stories and produce biographical films.
In addition, the centre runs a Learning Enrichment Centre that provides neighborhood children with the opportunity to improve English skills, general tutoring and preparation for matriculation examinations.
The mural entitled Jerusalem at Play that enlivens The Israel Asper Community Action Centre was painted by artist Ian Leventhal. It was created as part of a Jerusalem Foundation of Canada initiative called Jerusalem Beautification and graciously funded by the Jack Weinbaum Foundation of Toronto.