Merkaz Hamagshimim Closes its Doors

Raphael Ahren writing in Haaretz:

Merkaz Hamagshimim closes its doors in capital after 14 year

The Young Judaea youth movement is closing Merkaz Hamagshimim, the popular community center for young English-speaking immigrants it has operated in Jerusalem since 1996, Anglo File has learned. Movement officials said the Merkaz was no longer needed but that some services will continue to be provided by other segments of the organization and that no staff has been fired. Merkaz alumni and immigrant association officials said they regretted the move.

… Originally located in Jerusalem’s German Colony, Merkaz Hamagshimim served as a combination absorption and community center for the wider Anglo community, offering young immigrants support and the chance to build a vibrant life in their new home. Hundreds of individuals passed through the doors of the Merkaz each month for social and cultural activities such as Shabbat dinners, evening classes, plays and special events.

The two dozen or so residents at the Merkaz formed the backbone of an active volunteer network. Many residents who came as long-term tourists stayed in Israel after living in or meeting people through the Merkaz.

In 2009, Hadassah sold the building for $9 million, closing the residential aspect of the project, and moved most activities to the capital’s Baka neighborhood, where Young Judaea’s Year Course program – relocated from its former campus in Jerusalem’s Givat Masua neighborhood – is run.

… “When I heard that the Merkaz was closing down I was deeply upset. There is no other organization out there that was as dedicated to the young immigrants in Jerusalem,” said Molly Livingstone, who moved here from Boston in 2005 and lived, volunteered and performed at the center. “The Merkaz was a home, a community center, activity center and the first and most important stop for many of us on our aliyah path. The Merkaz is where I met my friends, connected me to other new immigrants and eased me into Israeli society. I think Hadassah is making a huge mistake by closing its doors and if I had the money I would not only keep it open, but expand it to reach out to immigrants all over Israel.”