Derech Eretz Founder Inspires Audiences Across the Country

During his 3-day visit, Yonatan Kishinovsky, the pioneering head of Derech Eretz named by Maariv newspaper as one of the 100 most inspiring Israelis, spoke to hundreds of people from a wide range of audiences across the country.

The Derech Eretz Leadership Programme was established in 2011 to give Israel’s disadvantaged youth the opportunity for life-changing growth and development throughout all three stages of service in the Israel Defence Forces. Derech Eretz provides support and preparation, ongoing mentorship and post-army guardianship. The programme aims to promote social mobility by helping young Israelis to have meaningful military service, whilst laying the groundwork for life of personal fulfilment, success and giving back to the community.

“Their army service is three of the most formative years of their lives and we want to ensure they are as prepared as possible to fulfil their duty and in turn grow into fine young people” said Mr Kishinovsky.

Whilst speaking at the Business Breakfast at Hendon Hall Hotel in London, Mr Kishinovsky made the comparison between the lack of opportunity for youngsters who are supported by his organisation and the abundance of choice available to students of local Jewish schools.

Quoting David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, Mr Kishinovsky said, “the challenge of the country is in how successful we will be in populating the Negev desert”.  This is Israel’s biggest social and demographic challenge since the founding of the State in 1948.

In Manchester, when meeting with members of the Zionist Central Council and JNF UK’s Wednesday Club, Mr Kishinovsky regaled the audience with stories of JNF UK’s various projects in the Negev and the accomplishments of those who had passed through the Derech Eretz programme. “I remember when there was no State of Israel and to hear how the Negev is flourishing with the help of JNF UK is a dream come true”, said 90 year old Mrs Canyon of the Wednesday Club.

Summing up the numerous engagements, Carolyn Addleman, director of JNF UK’s Legacy department which hosted Mr Kishinovsky said, “it is through projects such as Derech Eretz that JNF UK is connecting with young Israelis and fulfilling Ben Gurion’s dream”.