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“Israel is a complex mosaic of communities, cultures, traditions and values, where each yearns for recognition of its unique identity and contribution to society. The goals I set for myself were to increase national cohesion, strengthen identification with the State, and fortify the sense of partnership between all segments of the population.”

Yitzhak Navon, reflecting on his ascendancy to Israel’s highest office

Mission To increase awareness, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of the “other” within Israeli society, with the intention of enhancing social cohesion, engendering mutual respect, and generating a sense of joint responsibility for the country’s future. Vision Israel as a shared society to which all its citizens feel they belong, to which Jews around the world feel connected, and which people everywhere admire.


Overview "Our society must be characterized by moral, social and humanitarian values. The vision of an exemplary society is not an aspiration to be relegated to some far-off utopian future, but a necessary condition for our survival today." Yitzhak Navon, Presidential inaugural address before the Knesset The Yitzhak Navon Center for a Shared Society (YNC) is a multi-faceted, experiential complex-in-the making dedicated to fostering social solidarity. Further to a decision of the Government of Israel, it is being established to perpetuate the legacy of the country’s fifth president, who dedicated his life to fashioning Israel as an exemplary society in which all its citizens – Ashkenazim and Sephardim, religious and secular, new immigrants and veterans, Jews and Arabs, Christians and Druze - would feel at home, to which Jews abroad would be drawn, and which people the world over would hold in high esteem. To this end, the YNC will promote familiarity and mutual respect between the diverse populations of Israel, inter alia by preserving and nurturing the culture of Sephardi and Mizrachi Jewry, the wellspring of the president’s values, which counsel the Rambam’s “golden path” of tolerance and moderation that inspired his lifelong devotion to social cohesion. The Center is being built as the gateway to Neot Kedumim, a sprawling 600-acre (2,400 dunam) experiential Biblical nature reserve where the ancient becomes contemporary. Situated halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the park already enthralls 250,000 visitors annually from Israel and around the world. With the opening of the YNC, they will be further enriched by an array of interactive installations utilizing cutting-edge technology and the latest advances in museology that together will highlight the richness of Israel’s diverse society as well as the profundity of the bond between Israel and the Jewish people. We invite you to join us in this historic endeavor to make of Israel all that its visionaries imagined it becoming.

For decades we were engaged in building our state. Now we must concentrate on building our nation. Yitzhak Navon, Presidential inaugural address


Addressing the most pressing needs within Israel "May we build a society rooted in compassion, a society that has the power to end poverty, violence, political radicalism, and social polarization. A moral, ethical society that will bring us pride, inspire worldwide admiration… and, above all else, wholeheartedly strive for peace." Yitzhak Navon Israel. A pulsating society comprised of Jews of distinct ethnicities and varied traditions, living alongside Arab, Druze, Moslem and Christian neighbors – equally diverse. Vital, vibrant and vivacious. But also precarious. This multiplicity of identities and beliefs presents an enormous challenge to Israel’s social resilience. Disparate viewpoints engender contrasting visions and spawn divisive discourse, such that the divisions extant in the country today – evenwithin its Jewishmajority - pose a clear andpresent danger, potentially as much a threat to Israel’s future as any posed by its enemies from without. It is a threat to be taken seriously. In its recent report “Challenges to Societal Resilience,” Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies highlighted “an accelerated trend of weakening social solidarity within social groups, between social groups and the state, and between the individual and the state.” Duly concerned by this phenomenon, the Government of Israel has formally resolved to combat it, taking upon itself to assist in the creation of the YNC and committing an initial NIS 16,000,000 ($5,000,000) to the project. Its decision to do so acknowledges that “Israel is comprised of various communities and diverse ethnic groups [resulting in] rifts that have existed for many decades accompanied by cultural and economic gaps,” and refers to Yitzhak Navon as “an outstanding symbol of unity, mutual responsibility, and social cohesion.” This endorsement of the undertaking, in word and deed, is both an expression of the seriousness with which the State of Israel views the pressing need for fulfilling Navon’s vision of a shared society and the faith it has in the YNC to further that objective.


Responding to the concerns of Jews everywhere "Entire sections of the Jewish People are falling away as a result of assimilation. A significant portion of those lost are idealistic youth who seek an exalted ideal…We must find a way to reveal to them the eternal values of Judaism and its great heritage; to awaken within them a sense of common historic destiny; to confront them with challenges that will win their hearts…” Yitzhak Navon, Presidential inaugural address before the Knesset Over the past several years, a series of studies have revealed an ever-increasing degree of distancing from Israel on the part of Jews abroad, particularly amongmillennials. In one survey in the United States, only 38% of those under the age of 35 indicated that Israel’s existence was very important to them, compared to 70% of those 65 and older. For some, their sense of alienation stems from what they perceive of – justifiably or not - as Israel’s indifference to the liberal values they hold dear, as well as the country’s ongoing refusal to recognize the progressive streams of Judaism to which a majority of the affiliated abroad belong. But the real issue is much deeper than that. More than half of the younger generation questioned expressed discomfort with the very idea of a Jewish state. Recognizing this, the YNC will embrace those from overseas in the spirit of its namesake: “We must approach them in ways that conform with their inner needs. We must sharpen our wits and find new outlets for these people. The old ways have lost their relevance.” Accordingly, visitors from outside of Israel will be welcomed as prospective partners in shaping Israeli society, and the richness and vitality of Jewish life in the communities they come from will be both recognized and valued. In so doing, the YNC will provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for dealing with the most complex issues in Israel today as well as with the relationship between Israel and the Jewish people abroad.


Within the walls “It is our capacity for dialogue across different segments of society that fuels our strength and resilience.” Yitzhak Navon, That Which Separates Us and That Which Unites Us In enabling dialogue between Israel’s disparate populations, the YNC will contribute to dismantling the barriers separating them. That dialoguewill be enhancedby the Center’s exceptional array of experiential offerings, designed to be as enjoyable and entertaining as they are educational and enlightening. Some will familiarize visitors with the stories of those so different fromone another. Others will challenge them to contemplate critical questions as to how they understand themselves. Encompassing more than 23,000 square feet (2,200 square meters), this innovative educational, cultural and recreational facility will offer a variety of components and programs, among them: Activities and displays utilizing futuristic technology in exploring the richness of the diverse ethnic groups of which Israel and the Jewish people are comprised Opportunities for positive interaction between populations that generally have no opportunity to meet one another A platformto engage constructively in hotly debated issues on the agenda of Israel andworld Jewry A sophisticated, experiential museum highlighting Navon’s efforts to contend with the most pressing issues of his day while challenging the next generation to contend with the most pressing of theirs Beit Yosef Sagol, bringing to life the culture and core values of Sephardi Jewry Windows onto the life and traditions of diverse ethnic and religious groups in Israel and Jewish communities around the globe A hub for organizations and individuals engaged in social action encouraging collaboration in developing innovative social initiatives The Navon presidential library and research lab offering scholars and visitors an intimate perspective on decades of Israel’s unfolding history Classrooms outfitted with the most technologically advanced equipment, enabling a variety of learning opportunities and educational encounters both virtual and real A state-of-the-art auditorium and gallery, hosting conferences, symposia, festivals, art exhibitions and cultural events in sync with the values and mission of the Center The several buildings comprising the YNC will all open unto a Courtyard of Solidarity, a tantalizing meeting place embodying Navon’s desire “on the one hand, to find the common thread between us all, and on the other, to enable the individual expression of each and every ethnic group and community in Israel.” EMBRACING THE CHALLENGE



Beyond the walls “It is landscape and nature and ideology intertwined, and it is in this combination that we find our identity. Who we are becomes evident at Neot Kedumim.” Yitzhak Navon What lies beyond the buildings comprising the YNC is also integral to the Center. In 1964, Yitzhak Navon, along with Nogah Hareuveni, founded Neot Kedumim, a Biblical landscape of more than 600 acres (2,400 dunam) alive with activity. With the foothills of Jerusalem stretching in one direction and the coastal plain of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in the other, those who imagined this park into being envisioned it as bridging the distance between the ancient and the modern by telling the story of how the teachings, values and symbols of Judaism literally grew out of the connection between the Jewish people and its homeland. Today it is a recreational nature reserve, inviting visitors to celebrate the environment and ecology of the Bible with all of their senses through any of the myriad programs on offer, among them: Trails of biblical plants illuminating Israel as the Land of Milk and Honey; Rabbinic tales of wisdom revolving around the date palm, the almond tree, and the hyssop; Time travel through discovery of ancient cisterns and oil and wine presses; Sheep herding, tree planting and biblical culinary repasts. Designed in harmony with its surroundings, the YNC and Neot Kedumim will synergistically give birth to a stimulating campus whose hundreds of thousands of annual visitors will not only be enticed to explore who they are against the background of the past but also be inspired to take part in writing the next chapter of Israel’s unfolding story. EMBRACING THE CHALLENGE


The architectural concept of the YNC draws on three sources of inspiration: Israeli society - informing the design of the Center as a collection of separate buildings, each with its own style and shape, but integrated into a single whole, with doors and windows creating a continuous line of vision reenforcing the same idea The Bible and Jewish heritag e - reflected in the simplicity and modesty of the design as well as in the choice of materials The culture of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewry - particularly in regard to the design of the courtyard, embellished with pillars and arches in the Sephardi style reminiscent of the dwellings of the Spanish exiles The buildings will be covered with natural stone, complimented by materials creating harmony with the local environment and paying tribute to traditional methods of construction.


YITZHAK NAVON – PRESIDENT OF THE PEOPLE “We ought to cultivate and celebrate our ethnic heritage and traditions. Our communities must join hands and work together, and, in time, our people will find a common path.” Yitzhak Navon, Our Way of Living

The memory of Yitzchak Navon, the fifth president of the State of Israel, is enshrined in the chronicles of Israel and the Jewish people. He is remembered as a leader who dedicated his life to inspiring a sense of mutual responsibility between diverse ethnic groups, social sectors, cultures, and religions, toiling to narrow the socio-economic gaps between them and encouraging social cohesion. He embraced cultural diversity and unveiled the beauty of Sephardi culture. Yitzhak Navon served history and became a part of it. Navon was born in Jerusalem in 1921 to a family whose presence in the city dates back centuries. His father’s family originated in Spain, moved to Turkey following the Expulsion, and arrived in Jerusalem in 1670. His mother was a descendant of the renowned Moroccan-Jewish Kabbalist and author of Or HaChaim, Rabbi Chaim Ben Atar, who settled in Jerusalem in 1884. When elected president on May 29, 1978, Navon brought unprecedented prestige and moral fortitude to the office. With his wife, Ofira, by his side, he succeeded in generating a sense of unity and national pride that reflected a love of Israel and its numerous and diverse communities, cultures, and religions. He encouraged others to adopt the same fondness, firstly in regard to themselves. “If we want to make of our people something other than what we are, we must first ensure that each community be proud of itself and recognize that it has something to contribute to the whole and not only to take from it,” he asserted, adding that the next step is for each community to get to know the other, “as one tends to hate the unfamiliar.” Onlythenwouldtheprocessof integrationreallybeabletobegin. Practicing what he preached, and out of genuine concern for the underprivileged sectors of the population, President Navon traversed Israel from north to south, reaching out to the geographic and social peripheries and embracing the disadvantaged. He opened the President’s House to everyone and for all needs. For all these reasons andmore, YitzhakNavon earnedthewell-deservedappellation, “Presidentof thePeople.”



In the international arena, Navon’s exceptional traits and humanitarian values were appreciated by the likes of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who remarked that “President Navon . . . captured the heart of the Egyptian nation” with his fluent Arabic and profound knowledge of Egyptian culture reflected in the speech he delivered at the Egyptian Parliament. Following his term as president, Yitzhak Navon made an unprecedented decision to return to political life and served as deputy prime minister and minister of education and culture for six years. In the latter role, he introduced, among other innovations, extended school days in the periphery and a cultural initiative ensuring all school children attend several cultural events every year. He also intensified science and technology studies, added Arabic to the curriculum of all Jewish elementary schools, initiated school trips to the concentration camps in Poland, and created platforms for dialogue between students from different sectors. In addition to his many public roles, Yitzhak Navon was a gifted author, playwright, and educator who contributed significantly to cultural life in Israel, in particular by illuminating the heritage of Sephardi Jewry and the Ladino language. Throughout his life, President Navon was instrumental in defining Israel’s character as a multicultural state, encouraging others to relate, as did he, to all segments of society as being of equal importance and deserving of equal respect. The result is a legacy deeply embedded in Israeli consciousness. A growing network of 30 schools throughout the breadth and length of the country already bear his name and actively promote the values of social cohesion he championed – and this only six years after his passing. No other figure in Israel’s history has been so immortalized.



“These Jews, among whom I was raised, have their own unique character … they mitigate and do not aggravate, they are content and not sullen, they have humor and wit, knowledge and songs, and they distance themselves from over-analysis and bitterness. It seems as if they have brought all that is romantic from Spain and shed most of their memories of the Expulsion and persecution.” Yitzhak Navon Yitzhak Navon was loved and respected by all sectors of Israeli society and known to treat those of all backgrounds as equals. At the same time, among many Sephardi Israelis, he was known as “one of us” - the first Sephardi president who knew, recognized, valued, and nurtured their rich culture, which had, until he took central stage, been marginalized. Navon emphasized the fundamental characteristics of Sephardi Jewry - the combination of science and faith, moderation and the middle path, and love of the Bible, the Hebrew language and the Land of Israel. It was this culture of Sephardi Jewry and the Ladino language in which Navon was raised that was preeminent in his writings. Among his works are Romancero Sephardi , a popular production of Sephardi folksongs and liturgical compositions; Yerushalayim Shehayta Bisfarad (Out of Spain), an eight-episode television series; and Bustan Sephardi (The Sephardi Garden), describing the life of a Sephardi family in multicultural Jerusalem, which has the distinction of being the longest running play in Israel’s history, debuting in 1970 and still being performed today by Israel’s national theatre, Habima. Navon felt that with these works he had come full circle, once remarking “My soul is bound to the culture of Sephardi Jews. Their poetry, literature, and spirit are with me always […] It is an honor to take part in the celebration of this culture’s people, thinkers, and poets.” As a descendant of Sephardi exiles, Navon also worked assiduously to ensure the enactment of a law establishing the National Authority for Ladino, of which he served as chair from its inception until a short time before his death. This is yet another example of his devotion to preserving this rich culture and making it accessible to the Israeli public. Concurrently, he worked to forge diplomatic ties with Spain and obtain its official recognition of the Jewish Expulsion from its territory. The culture and values of Sephardi culture, so central to Navon’s life, will find expression in the Beit Yosef Sagol wing of the YNC.


-13 Bustan Sephardi (The Spanish Garden) by Yitzhak Navon continues to delight audiences today with its celebration of Sephardi Jewry


The vision for the YitzhakNavonCenter for a Shared Society (YNC) is the outgrowth of forward-thinking collaboration between the Association for the Commemoration of the Fifth President Yitzhak Navon, the Neot Kedumim Park, and the Government of Israel. The total cost for establishing the YNC is projected at $17,000,000. The Government of Israel has budgeted $5m for the project, and an additional $7.3m has already been committed by private donors, together amounting to 93% of the funds needed to build and equip the complex and 72% of the total cost of ensuring its ongoing operation. The remaining funds to be raised provide an opportunity for you to become a partner in fashioning Israel as the shared society Navon dedicated his life to creating, directly impacting the lives of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who will be welcomed into the YNC annually.

Projected Costs and Sources of Funding ($1 = NIS 3.2)



Sources of funding Government of Israel


Project initiation (expended 2016-2022) Planning and design (including interior)


5,000,000 5,000,000 2,300,000 4,700,000


Sagol Family

Construction Infrastructure Landscaping

5,500,000 1,600,000

Private donor commitments

Funds to be raised


Total funding


Content development and exhibitions Levies, fees, permits, documents


“I am deeply appreciative for the privilege I have had to serve my people in trying times, to have had a role, small as it may have been, in shaping the nation, and to have laid a brick or two in the building of our state.“ Yitzhak Navon , July 22, 2011

220,000 280,000 875,000

Administrative expenses


Standing operating fund


Total cost of establishing YNC


Embrace the challenge. Become a partner. Your tax-deductible gift will be prominently recognized at the YNC, allowing you to create a legacy of your own or honor those you hold dear. Examples of naming opportunities appear on the facing page. The staff of the Association for the Commemoration of the Fifth President Yitzhak Navon will be glad to discuss additional possibilities with you. Please contact us at: partner@navon-center.org.il Tax-deductible gifts in Israel: Donations to the Association for the Commemoration of the Fifth President Yitzhak Navon (Reg. 580621977) are recognized for tax purposes by Section 46a of the Income Tax Ordinance. Tax-deductible gifts in the United States: US tax deductible contributions of at least $25 may be made payable to: P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. 630 Third Ave, Suite 1501 New York, NY, 10017 with a memo that it be used for the Association for the Commemoration of the Fifth President Yitzhak Navon.


Naming opportunities (partial listing) Component Yitzhak Navon Heritage Center

Description Naming of the entire complex Museum highlighting the values Navon’s life exemplified Experientialhi-techinteractiveeducational centerandauditorium A meeting place for diverse ethnic and religious groups Entranceway and orientation hall for the entire complex Presidential Library, Ladino Academy, Research Division Exhibitions on the traditions and culture of diverse communities Accelerator for social action and leadership training Rooftop multi-purpose venue with panoramic views An inner garden in the style of Spanish Jewry Offices for staff including content development Educational space equipped with hi-tech capacity Wall of recognition for contributions of every amount

US$ 10,000,000 6,000,000 3,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000

Beit Yosef Sagol* Room for Us All

Courtyard of Solidarity Gateway of Inclusion My Heart is in the East Pathway of Pride The Impact Zone Observation Deck Bustan Sephardi Development Division Learning Lab Donors’ grove * Already gifted and designated

750,000 500,000 350,000 300,000 250,000 250,000 150.000 various

Photo credits p.10 from top to bottom, all courtesy of the Government Press Office

An open house at the President’s Residence during Sukkot. Nino (Chananya) Herman, October 10, 1979; Minister of Education and Culture Yitzhak Navon on a visit to the Talpiot School in Hadera, with new immigrants from Ethiopia. Nati Harnik, January 15, 1985; President Yitzhak Navonmeeting with Bedouin during a visit to SharmEl Sheikh. Natan Zahavi, December 24, 1981; President Yitzhak Navon speaking with children on Moshav Even Shmuel during a visit to Hevel Lachish. Yaakov Saar, July 28, 1980 p.11 from top to bottom, courtesy of the Government Press Office except as noted President Yitzhak Navon, in conversation with the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat during a visit to the country. Yaakov Saar, October 29, 1980 ; President Yitzhak Navon meeting with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Diodoros I in his office in Jerusalem. Nino (Chananya) Herman, March 14, 1981; President Yitzhak Navon examining sacred books of Islam with distinguished leaders of the city of Taibe. Yaakov Saar, October 15, 1980 ; President Navon with the country’s two Chief Rabbis, HaRav Ovadia Yosef and HaRav Shlomo Goren. Courtesy of Photo Ross, December 22, 1980



Neot Kedumim, POB 1043 Ben Gurion Airport 70198, Israel E-mail: partner@navon-center.org.il www.navon-center.org.il/?lang=en

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