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A 1969 grade of ICJA, Debbie Golan and her husband David Golan have lived in Yeroham, a small town south of Beersheba, for the past 35 years: “Yeroham is a fascinating place, a kind of laboratory for grappling with some of the big issues Israel faces,” Debbie explains.

In 1990, Debbie co-founded Atid Bamidbar, a forum for building bridges and dialogue, and for educating people about Israel’s diverse social groups.  She currently serves as President of the organization, building strategic partnership and developing new programs.  Debbie also helps run the Yeroham Heritage Center, creates opportunities for dialogue between Bedouins and Jews, and builds opportunities for Russian-speakers in Yeroham.  “I’m also co-coordinator of the ‘Good Neighbors Network in the Negev’, in Bedouin and Jewish adjacent localities,” she notes.  Debbie is also very active in her shul and hosts many guests, including visiting soldiers.

Ida Crown continues to inspire Debbie in her work in the Jewish state: “Studying Jewish sources brought home to me how important tikkun olam and chesed are.”  She recalls Rabbi Hirsch Isenberg and Ms. Dorothy Butts, ICJA’s former French teacher, as particularly important influences.  The memories and lessons that Debbie learned at ICJA continue to help her in her work in Israel through the years: “I feel blessed and ever-grateful to be part of our people’s biggest experiment in 2000 years – a Jewish democratic sovereign state – with all the responsibility and challenges it entails – and to be part of efforts to make the Negev and especially its people bloom.”

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