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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Ascent is proud of our twelve-year partnership with the IDF as suppliers of Jewish Identity programs for cadets and combat officers. We are pleased to present you, also our partners, with our Ascent IDF proposal for 2018. With your help, together with the IDF, Ascent has developed a highly successful curriculum that our soldiers find inspiring, beneficial and enjoyable. We can only continue with your support. Our programs (with numbers of participants for 2017) include:      

Jewish Identity Shabbatons “Yom Kef”- Day of Fun & Learning Winter and Fall Selichot events Mechinot Pre-Army Gap year Training Courses Beit Hachayal of Tsfat Lone Soldiers

2,143 2,581 2,430 728 500

Enclosed please find details of these projects with pictures and budgets. Feel free to contact me with any questions. You will find our contact details at the end of this proposal. We look forward to developing a fruitful partnership with you. Sincerely,

Rabbi Shaul Leiter Director

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Table of Contents

Letter from Rabbi Leiter, Director of Ascent .......................................... 2 Jewish Identity Shabbatons .................................................................... 4 “Yom Kef”- Day of Fun & Learning ......................................................... 5 Selichot Programs .................................................................................. 6 Mechinot Pre-Army Training Course Programs ..................................... 7 Beit Hachayal.......................................................................................... 8 Lone Soldiers .......................................................................................... 8 Overview of Ascent's Relationship with the IDF .................................... 9 History of Ascent’s Relationship with the IDF................................. 10-11 Letter from Brig. Gen. Paz-Zuk ............................................................. 12 IDF Documents ................................................................................ 13-14 Pictures of the Ascent IDF Programs ................................................... 15 Feedback ......................................................................................... 16-17 Budget .................................................................................................. 18 Ascent Contact Details ......................................................................... 19

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

IDF Jewish Identity Shabbatons Goal: 4,800 soldiers. 120 soldiers x 40 Shabbatons per year. Beginning on Thursday evening or Friday morning, this program includes transportation to and from Tsfat, 6 meals, 1 or 2 nights lodging, 3 music events, 2 tours and 5 workshops on Jewish identity. Workshops include: “How to be a Leader,” “Officer as Educator,” “Techniques for Positive Thinking,” “Relationships”, “Shabbat for Everyone” and Ascent’s famous “Laughter” seminar. Ascent’s staff of “chozer b’tshuva” (returnees to practicing Judaism) IDF veterans infuse participants with excitement and enthusiasm and enable the soldiers to connect with each other and with Jewish tradition. Ascent’s location in Tsfat, with its 4,000 years of Jewish history, adds to the atmosphere. Participants learn how to use the teachings of Judaism, through the light of Kabbala, to lead more successful lives, hone their military skills and become more effective officers. Feedback from evaluation forms is 99% positive and is used to improve Ascent’s programs. The Ascent experience is changing the face of the Army of Israel, bringing it closer to Judaism, the Jewish people, the land of Israel and our Father in Heaven. The impact continues after the soldiers’ tour of service. Many return to Ascent to continue learning about Judaism as they value the importance of a strong Jewish home and mitzvah observance for their futures.

Budget $288,000 soldiers. 120 soldiers, 40 Shabbatons per year. Budget $288,000

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

“Yom Kef” – Day of Fun & Learning Goal: 6,000 soldiers. 100 groups x 60 soldiers. soldiersShabbatons per year. For financial reasons only commissioned and non-commissioned officers and officers-in-training were the focus of the IDF Education Corps Jewish Identity program. With the agreement of the IDF, Ascent developed a new initiative, a one-day intensive program of content and fun for combat soldiers in units on Israel’s hostile northern border - to bolster morale, spirit and motivation. The life of a combat soldier is filled with extremes, either tedious and monotonous or stressful and draining. Rest and relaxation programs are a necessity for a healthy army and Ascent fulfils this need in a meaningful way. Twice a week Ascent invites units of front-line combat soldiers from both the infantry and armored divisions to this very popular program that combines laser tag, a music presentation, intellectually challenging workshops, a tour of the Old City of Tsfat and lunch. In addition to being a positive way of “letting go” these activities hone crucial military skills. Through this program Ascent positively affects the lives of thousands of young combat soldiers who risk their lives for Israel. In the peaceful and inspiring environment of Tsfat and Ascent, participants have a relaxed and open frame of mind - fertile ground for learning the Jewish values so important for their success as soldiers defending our holy land.

Budget: $180,000

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Selichot Program Goal: 5,000 soldiers annually Thousands of IDF soldiers, who literally put their lives in G-d’s hands on a daily basis, have found strength and solace in the Ascent Selichot program. Selichot are penitential prayers recited in the early hours of the morning during the month leading up to the High Holidays. Many soldiers have never participated in High Holiday services, and for them, these prayers, which are recited with their units in Tsfat’s historic synagogues, connect them to this deeply meaningful Jewish New Year experience, and to each other. As with our Shabbatons, Ascent has successfully created a program geared specifically to soldiers and officers in the IDF. All-night study sessions are followed by early morning prayers in ancient synagogues, in a quietly powerful atmosphere that culminates with the Selichot prayers and the blast of the shofar as the sun rises. Emerging from these nights of prayer and unity with the men and women with whom they may enter the battlefield, the soldiers experience a powerful sense of inner connection and a unity of purpose and values that unites them as they fight for a higher cause. Classes and discussions focus on the High Holidays, prayer, and the inner nature and purpose of a Jew. There are also refreshments and live music sessions, which, set against the mystical backdrop of Tsfat and the intensely reflective time period before the High Holidays, results in an uplifting experience that leaves soldiers moved to connect to the Jewish people, their G-d, and the Jewish way of life. The program was so well received that Ascent was chosen as the main venue for IDF Selichot programs in the north and 3,000 soldiers participated in 2017. This program is available for all IDF soldiers. The only limitation to expansion is financial, as the Israeli government has cut funding for educational programs. Please help Ascent provide as many IDF soldiers as possible with this meaningful experience.

Budget: $50,000

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Mechinot – Pre-Army Preparation Training Goal: 1,500 cadets. 30 units x 50 cadets. Mechinot are government sanctioned and subsidized youth programs that provide pre-army training courses for high-school graduates. The students learn physical, interpersonal and intellectual skills, and are imbued with a sense of responsibility and mission as preparation for a higher quality army service. The goal is to encourage students to enroll in combat and other elite IDF units and to take leadership positions in the army. The results of recent research have demonstrated that the Mechinot are fulfilling their purpose. High school graduates see the benefits of this gap-year program and are choosing to enroll in the Mechinot programs in ever increasing numbers. Ascent immediately recognized the power and potential of working with the Mechinot - youth who are likely to be Israel’s future leaders. Since 2012, we have been offering subsidized programs to a dozen groups annually. Students spend Shabbat at Ascent, often together with army units. We provide them with a packed program tailored to their needs and requirements. The IDF holds Ascent in high esteem and trusts our competence and professionalism to deliver the spiritual and Jewish identity component of the Mechinot program. Feedback from the students after their Ascent experience is extremely positive. Often this is the first time that these young Israelis have met observant Jews, experienced a Shabbat, or have been exposed to the teachings of their Jewish heritage. The Ascent experience can be profound and life-changing. Ascent provides a warm, welcoming and non-judgmental environment where these young Israelis, at a crucial and formative time in their lives, can explore Judaism and contemplate their future lives as Jews, serving the country as soldiers and afterwards as adult members of society.

Budget: $112,500

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Beit Hachayal In 2016 Ascent won the coveted contract to provide services as the IDF Beit Hachayal (Soldiers’ Home) in the north of Israel. This contract grants some funding for Ascent and enables us to house and provide meals for IDF groups. As a result, we can host many more soldiers for our various educational programs and the IDF are substantially increasing their bookings with Ascent.

Lone Soldiers Goal: 500 individual soldiers. Shabbatons (2 x 120 soldiers) Lone Soldiers is the term used for young people from overseas who choose to join the Israeli IDF. The great majority have no family in Israel and are looking for a home away from home. Ascent welcomed 10% of the IDF’s 5,000 lone soldiers as our guests at no charge on their days off and for Shabbat and holiday periods.

Budget: Individuals $1,000. Shabbatons $31,200

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Overview Every Israeli soldier is a hero. The early incredible victories of the IDF were due to the determination of its soldiers, based on their dedicated loyalty to Jewish history and tradition. After the second Lebanese War a growing number of new recruits were found to be seriously lacking in morale and motivation. Ignorance of their national heritage and poor Jewish identity made our soldiers’ mission more difficult. In 2005 the IDF Education Department began to address this problem by developing a primarily outsourced, comprehensive and inspiring educational program to reinvigorate its troops. Ascent, with its staff of IDF veterans, a campus located in Tsfat and over three decades of experience in short, adult-level, high-impact programs, has been one of the providers of IDF Jewish Identity programs from the start. We have been the largest provider for weekend programs by units since 2010. Ascent started offering programs for Pre-Army Preparation programs in 2012. Ascent is now also working more closely with the thousands of combat soldiers serving on Israel’s northern frontier. Ascent is part of the IDF Jewish Identity program. The issue of Jewish identity training has been a controversial topic both in the IDF and in the Israeli media for over ten years. The root of the conflict lies with the two main bodies who were responsible for Jewish Identity in the IDF - the Youth and Education Corps and the Army Rabbanut. The Youth and Education Corps have left-wing views and the Rabbanut stand more to the right. Ascent has been stuck in the middle of this conflict for many years. For the last few years, we’ve been working under the Youth and Education Corps. They don’t approve of us, but as Ascent is the largest and strongest orthodox institute offering these programs, they continued working with us. In July 2016 the conflict between these two bodies became an ugly public media issue. As a consequence, the IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisencott, decided to reform the Jewish Identity programs and formed a new body - the Jewish Identity and Awareness Department - a branch of the IDF AKA Human Resources Department which is headed by General Avner Cohen who is very supportive of Ascent. All the other orthodox institutes were closed down and Ascent is now the lead institute of the IDF program and considered to be the most trustworthy and respected. During the transitional phase of the past year there were almost no other Jewish Identity programs apart from those at Ascent. This situation will continue for at least the next year. Ascent must take advantage of this unique opportunity to continue to provide, and expand, our successful and unique programs for the many thousands of soldiers who will visit our campus.

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

History of Ascent’s Relationship with the IDF

2005

Launch of IDF Jewish Identity Program.

2007

Ascent is invited to work with the IDF Education Corps under Colonel Roni Sulimani.

Ascent partners with the IDF via the IDF Rabbinate under Rabbi General Israel Weiss, providing short off-base hands-on educational experiences.

Ascent develops groundbreaking workshops: “The Officer as a Jewish Leader,” “Kabbalistic Insights into Relationships and Marriage” and “Positive Thinking for Team Success.”

2010

Ascent becomes the largest service provider for weekend Jewish identity and leadership training for the IDF.

2011

Numbers of attendees leaps to almost 7,000 soldiers.

2012

Ascent develops “Officer as Educator” workshops and new weekday retreats on Jewish identity and Jewish leadership.

Numbers increase by a further 64% to 11,350 soldiers. Ascent adds a new two-day program specifically for married officers and their spouses, and two new workshops. Ascent launches its “Lone Soldier” program to address the needs of the 5,000 lone soldiers who are far from family and community. Ascent begins to offer programs for the Mechinot – Pre-army preparation programs. Chief IDF Education Officer Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister agrees to make Ascent’s Jewish Identity Program available for combat soldiers as well as officers and cadets.

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

2014

Despite drastic government cuts Ascent remains the number one provider for weekend retreats. Ascent begins providing programs for families of IDF Reserve soldiers. Ascent passes, with flying colors, two inspections by the IDF Education Corps.

2015

Ascent becomes the main venue for IDF Selichot programs in the north of Israel. Numbers of lone soldiers visiting Ascent rises by 44% to 360 soldiers. Ascent launches Yom Kef (Day of Fun and Learning) program for combat soldiers on Israel’s northern border.

2016

Ascent wins the coveted contract as the official Soldiers’ Residence (Beit Hachayal) in the north of Israel. 500 lone soldiers come to Ascent – a 39% rise. Over 2,000 soldiers participate in the Ascent Selichot programs. Yom Kef programs receive 99% positive feedback. 82% rise in numbers of soldiers attending our programs.

2017

Ascent’s largest IDF Shabbaton – 230 officers from the elite IDF Intelligence unit. This is the first program attended by officers from this unit. Continued rise in the numbers of participants in the Ascent IDF programs. Ascent holds its position as the main provider for the IDF Jewish Identity programs during the transition phase of the IDF reform of their Jewish Identity department. Ascent hosts lone soldiers twice a year for Shabbaton programs.

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Inspection by the Education Corps Under the new leadership of Chief Education Officer, Brig. Gen. Avner Paz-Zuk, the Education Corps developed an Inspection Unit for their Jewish Identity Program providers. Some quotes from IDF Inspectors:

"Maintaining strong defense forces requires not only professional military skill but a strong spirit as well.”

" One fifth of all potential conscripts exempt themselves from the IDF since they do not feel obliged to serve.”

Brig.Gen. Eli Shermeister IDF Chief Education Officer

Prof Dan Soen, Ariel University Center

" The Shabbat seminar was extremely well organized and effective.”

" Ascent is a place with whom the IDF should continue working.”

"The Ascent IDF Department Director works over and above for the IDF because he feels that his work is an important mission"

Brig. Gen. Paz-Zuk 12


Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Letter from Brig. Gen. Paz-Zuk

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Letter from Brig. Gen. Paz-Zuk

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Pictures of the Ascent IDF Program

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Feedback translated from Hebrew

“A workshop people have to experience. I gained so much from it.” Ido, Armour Officers course

“The whole experience was great and united the whole unit.” Arnon Bahad 7

“It was a wonderful Shabbat. You fill the hearts of the soldiers with lots of joy and optimism.” Amir, Givati

“The workshops and talks were very interesting and gave us strength to continue our mission.”

“Amazing hospitality, and such a loving welcome! Thank you so much, I have no words” Yoni, Battalion 401

“I am not observant but this Shabbat helped me to understand religious people and to count the wonderful people of Tsfat as my friends. Omri, the Navy

“It was important, I enjoyed it greatly. I especially loved the absence of religious coercion. There was only exposure to Jewish tradition and practice." Yoav, Fleet 13

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Feedback – translated from Hebrew

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Budget 2018 Shabbatons

$288,000

4,800 soldiers. 40 Shabbatons of 120 soldiers.

Yom Kef

$180,000

6,000 soldiers. 100 groups of 60 soldiers.

Mechinot

$112,500

1,500 cadets. 30 groups of 50 cadets.

Selichot

$50,000

5,000 soldiers.

Lone Soldiers Operating Expenses

$31,200 $1,200 $70,000

240 soldiers. 2 Shabbatons for 120 soldiers. 500 individuals Director full time plus part-time assistant.

Total

$732,900

A detailed breakdown of all costs is available at your request. All programs are available for Sponsorship and Dedication. For details please email director@ascentofsafed.com

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. YOUR ASSISTANCE NOW IS CRUCIAL. PLEASE HELP US TO STRENGTHEN THE SECURITY OF ISRAEL AND THE IDENTITY OF THE NATION.

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Your Global Center for Jewish Spiritual Discovery

Rabbi Shaul Leiter

Ascent Contact Details

Rabbi Shaul Leiter Director Ascent of Safed 2 Ha’Ari Street Tsfat 1320920, Israel +972-77-3601-106 +972-52-677-0140 director@ascentofsafed.com Rabbi Mordechai Siev Lone Soldiers Department Ascent of Safed 2 Ha’Ari Street Tsfat 1320920, Israel +972-77-3601-101 ext. 129 +972-54-643-7770 siev@ascentofsafed.com Noam Wolfin IDF Department Director Ascent of Safed 2 Ha’Ari Street Tsfat 1320920, Israel +972-77-3601-101 ext. 109 noam@ascent.co.il

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Ascent IDF proposal 2017  
Ascent IDF proposal 2017  
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