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Ben-Gurion University, Rutgers and New Jersey and Delaware Federations Form Partnership To Expand Negev Project Vision

Ben-Gurion University, Rutgers and New Jersey and Delaware Federations Form Partnership To Expand Negev Project Vision

December 23, 2008

Negev Development & Community Programs, Press Releases

NEW YORK, December 16, 2008 —  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is forming a partnership with the Rutgers University School of Social Work to expand Negev Project Vision, a successful community-based program that addresses the vision needs of poor, elderly populations in the Dead Sea region.

Social work students from BGU’s Charlotte B. and Jack J. Spitzer Department of Social Work and the School of Social Work at Rutgers University will work together to expand the Negev Project Vision to Arad and Tamar.

Eye disorders are linked to elderly mental health, behavior and social involvement.  In Israel, these aging individuals, especially the 16 percent of elderly immigrants with fixed incomes, cannot afford expensive eye care services and are required to pay for routine eye examinations as well as eyeglasses.  

To address this need, the Negev Vision Program was founded in 1997 by Prof. Richard Isralowitz of BGU’s Spitzer Department of Social Work, with the generous support of Suse Smetana of San Francisco, The Clalit Health Fund, and the Department of Ophthalmology in Soroka University Medical Center headed by Prof. Tova Lifshitz.

Quoting Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Isralowitz said, “A test of a people is how it behaves toward the old. But the affection and care for the old, the incurable, and the helpless are the true gold mines of a culture. The Negev Project Vision highlights BGU’s concern for the senior population of many different cultures.” 

For more than 10 years, thousands of elderly Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, and Bedouin throughout the region have received services through Negev Project Vision, a community-based program that includes education, training and research related to vision impairment and quality of life among older people. Negev Project Vision has received national and international recognition as a model initiative.

The project recently received approval by the Joint American/Israeli Steering Committee Meeting of the New Jersey and Delaware Jewish Federations to link the successful Negev Project Vision (Dept. of Social Work-BGU) and Rutgers University-School of Social Work with Arad and Tamar (Dead Sea Regional Council).  The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from Partnership 2000 Arad/Tamar-New Jersey/Delaware Federations, the Jewish Agency, and local representatives.

The project will begin in January 2009 when Prof. Isralowitz, Rutgers faculty and students from both universities visit Arad/Tamar.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications