1. What was Gush Katif and where was it located?
Gush Katif is the collective name for the 21 Jewish communities that were scattered around the Gaza Strip. The first community to be settled was Kfar Darom in the 1960’s and following that, twenty more settlements were established.
2. How many people lived in Gush Katif?
Approximately 9,000 people lived in Gush Katif. Of those 9,000, 85% worked in Gush Katif itself.
3. What was Gush Katif known for?
Gush Katif was best known for its agriculture. It specialized in bug-free organic vegetables and comprised 15% of Israel’s exported agriculture.
4. Where are they living now?
While the former residents of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron have spread out all over the country, there are two concentrated areas where they chose to resettle. The first is in the general Ashkelon area, including Yad Binyamin, Ein Tzurim, Nitzan, Amatzia, Yesodot and more. The second is in the North: Avnei Eitan in the Golan Heights, and its surrounding communities. See this map, which shows the specific towns where the families currently live.
5. What role does JobKatif play?
Most people associate the Disengagement with destroyed homes, and don’t realize that 85% of these wonderful people also lost their source of income as their place of work had also been destroyed. JobKatif is the only organization helping this population find employment, thereby returning to economic self-sufficiency and financial independence.
Rav Rimon, Founder and Chairman of JK, realized how crucial it was to get these people back to work ASAP, not just for financial, but also emotional reasons. For more details on how JobKatif began, click here.
6. How is JobKatif unique?
JobKatif utilizes one-of-a-kind techniques and works one on one with the evacuees. They work in their homes and aim to find a solution that will work for the whole family. It is now officially recognized by the Prime Minister’s Office of the State of Israel as being the only entity successfully placing the displaced job-seekers back into the Israeli workforce.
7. To what is JobKatif’s success attributed?
The techniques that JobKatif uses are unique, and specifically geared towards displaced families who lost their homes and sources of income. A team of psychologists/counselors train and mentor our case managers on an ongoing basis. There is a close relationship amongst the case managers since they encounter similar issues amongst our “clients.”
Our case managers (rakazim) meet with the former residents, typically in their temporary trailers. The trailers are the closest thing to houses at the present time, so this creates a warm, comfortable meeting space. The rakazim assess the job-seeker’s hobbies, skills, motivation level and emotional state. From there, they determine the best course of action in terms of employment.
Some choose to open a business, while others enroll in professional retraining courses. Others seek a job similar to what they held in the past. In many cases, skills that were used while living in Gush Katif can be transferred to a different position.
For example, a farmer who specialized in importing/exporting their organic crops in Gush Katif lost land, and by now, has lost his/her clientele. Since farming is an industry that can take decades to develop given the different topography and climate, it would take decades to rebuild another successful agriculture business. Therefore, a JobKatif case manager may recommend joining an already-established business to provide his/her expertise in marketing wholesale products.
8. What kind of solutions have you come up with?
- Our job placement specialist looks for jobs and matches appropriate candidates to these positions.
- We have business counselors who help open and develop businesses. When appropriate, people can get start up funding for businesses or loans. Their ongoing mentorship aims for sustainability and success of the business.
- We subsidize courses for people who want to gain a new skill or upgrade their skill set.
- We have employer subsidies where we pay a portion of a worker’s salary for the first few months. This encourages employers to hire someone that they may otherwise would not have considered, such as over age 50.
- Our volunteer program offers a small stipend in exchange for volunteering. This program is often the first step in helping a person with severe trauma get out of bed and do something that will restore his/her self confidence. Many times, it also leads to a paid position.
9. How many people has JobKatif helped?
The following are some of our successes (as of September, 2011):
2100 people have found new jobs
460 people have gone through retraining courses
200+ businesses have opened
Each success has helped entire families get back on their feet economically, which of course has a huge impact on the entire family dynamic.
9. Wasn’t the employment problem handled by the SELA commission that dealt with the Disengagement? Doesn’t the State of Israel have a Department of Employment? Why is this being handled by an NGO?
SELA (now known as “Tnufa”) worked very hard to help the families, but there were problems that were unanticipated. The Department of Employment tried to handle the problems, and was successful with basic cases. However, the Government Employment services do not have the tools to deal with difficult cases. They don’t have solutions for people over 40. They don’t have funding to help people start new businesses. In 2010, the Prime Minister’s office convened a State Commission of Inquiry on the Disengagement and they recognized JobKatif as the best organization to handle the employment problems of the families. Since 2010, JK is the official arm of the Prime Minister’s Office dealing with this issue.
10. If the Government likes your work, do you receive a budget from them? Why do you need to fundraise?
Yes, the Government is pleased with our work and does help us financially. However, our financial agreement with the government requires us to raise the initial funds in order to leverage the government’s financial support. The more JobKatif raises, the more we receive from the government. To donate, click here.
11. How many people are left to be helped?
There are more than 700 families suffering from unemployment or underemployment.
12. What kinds of businesses has JobKatif helped launch?
Our businesses range from cottage-industry businesses – small and home-based services and products – to larger companies. Our businesses include handmade jewelry, cosmeticians, restaurants, Bed & Breakfast cabins (tzimerrim), spas, plant nurseries, hardware stores, disposable goods stores, glass artwork, tech support, taxi drivers, tour guides, repairmen, technicians, Judaica and more!
For a full listing of businesses opened with assistance from JobKatif, see our Business Directory.
13. It’s been more than six years since the Disengagement. Why do they still need help?
The people who are still in need are JobKatif’s most difficult cases. A large portion of those in need of assistance are the farmers. Many of these farmers moved down to Gush Katif while in their younger years, and spent their prime years building up successful businesses. Many of these people are now 50 + which creates a challenge to re-enter the workforce in a new profession.
Others are what we term “chronically unemployed”. These are former income-earners who have not been employed since the Disengagement in 2005. The longer one is out of work, the harder it is to get back to work. Many of these people suffer from emotional issues such as depression. Others have developed health conditions due to stress and anxiety. The longer they wait, the harder it is to help them recover.
JobKatif is currently focusing on these populations, which require many resources, funding and creative solutions.