In 1953 Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion moved to live in the largest desert region in Israel – the Negev. By doing so he conveyed a message to the young generation of Israel that their duty is to continue the Zionist mission of building Israel – In the Negev.
Over 50 years later, the Negev and the Galilee constitute 80% of the land of Israel but contribute only 8% to its economy. Ayalim was founded in order to engage this challenge.
The story of Ayalim began in 2002 when two young boys decided to take their IDF-army grant and buy two caravans. These two young boys, Matan Dahan and Dany Gliksberg laid the caravans in Ashalim – a small town in the Negev. The two had not yet realized that they have a Zionist start-up! The caravans were the cornerstone of what would soon become the very first Ayalim student village.
Ayalim is named after Matan and Dany’s close friends – Ayal and Yael Sorek that were killed in a terrorist attack in Karmey Tzur only days before the birth of their first son.
The youngsters of Ayalim build and live in the Ayalim student villages in the Negev, Galilee, and Lod. The goal of the villages is to expose the young population to the potential of the areas in which they are located, encourage communal life and social involvement within them.
Ayalim sees great importance in connecting the young generation to Zionism, Jewish Identity, pioneering, community life, and social involvement. In return for an academic scholarship the students volunteer over 300 yearly hours in different educational frameworks as well as pioneering work in Israel’s less populated and under developed areas.
Today, Ayalim consists over 1200 student and youngsters in 22 student villages and alumni compounds that are leading a demographic change in Israel’s and in the future of the country as a whole.
After their academic chapter of living, volunteering and building the Ayalim student villages, 46% of the Ayalim graduates choose to build their homes in the Negev, Galilee and Lod.
The association leads cooperations with the Israeli government and private donors in Israel and abroad: The Mirage Foundation, The Jewish Agency, The Sacta Rashi Foundation, the Israeli settlement division, Keren Hayesod, Mifal Hapayis, Jewish Federations and other foundations around the world. Partnerships create unique opportunities and have important value in fostering the Ayalim vision.