WUJS Closes Arad Center, Moves to TA

After 40 years of operation, the World Union of Jewish Students Institute in Arad will be closed and its activity transferred from the small Negev town to the country's center, said a spokeswoman for Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which operates WUJS.

"When we learned the Jewish Agency was closing the building which houses the Arad institution, we concentrated our efforts on finding another venue," said Barbara Sofer, Hadassah's Israel Director of Public Relations.

The Jewish Agency owns the building in Arad, while Hadassah took over the Arad institution from the Jewish Agency in 2006.

The Institute, which was established in 1968, offered Ulpan (intensive Hebrew) programs and courses about Israel and Jewish learning. It also held weekly tours and social activities. According to Sofer, the WUJS institute in Arad had taught thousands of students, with 25 percent staying on in Israel as new immigrants.

"Although the facility in Arad has been closed down, the Arad program has in fact been expanded," Sofer said. "The Arad center ran four programs for teenagers, which included activities in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Each program was five months long. Starting September 1, those programs will be run from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and they will go on for six months and will include additional activities."

Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk decided on the move last week, according to Sofer.

"We had 50 teenagers who were supposed to attend at Arad," Sofer said. "We contacted them to let them know we couldn't have the program there. None of them canceled."

A spokesman for the Jewish Agency, Michael Jankelowitz, told Haaretz that the Arad building used to be an absorption center, but its function was changed last year because of lack of demand on the part of new immigrants.

"The WUJS institute profited from the boarding house services at the absorption center," Jankelowitz said. "They moved after they learned those services would no longer be available."

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