This is the story of Kibbutz Gevim.

Kibbutz Gevim, established in 1947 near the Gaza border, is a vibrant community with a rich history and diverse population. With agriculture as its mainstay, Gevim is a testament to resilience and community spirit. Gevim has around 700 members, 28% of them children under the age of 18, 38% young adults and 10% seniors, the Kibbutz resides only 4 kilometers (2.5 Miles) from the Gaza border.

The events of October 7th left an indelible mark on Gevim, affecting its people both physically and emotionally. The community’s determination to rebuild and recover is evident in their collective response to these challenges. Two kibbutz members, Shlomi Davidovitz and Ziv Hajbi were murdered, and Commander Ziv Aviv, and Pinni Dadon, members of the local security volunteering team, were severely injured. Buildings and houses suffered direct bomb hits, children and residents witnessed all the horror and chaos of the day including, bomb sirens, sounds of gunshots, close proximity of terrorists, messages of friends and families being hurt online, and long hours being locked in the “safe” rooms until being rescued safely out of the area.  

Immediately following October 7th, the Gevim community was evacuated to kibbutz Mizra, located in our Partnership Region.  They lived either in a hotel or in small guest houses inside the Kibbutz and were faced with the challenges of re-establishing a community infrastructure there.  They quickly set up an education system for their students by creating new educational frameworks and by fitting their students into the existing educational structures in Mizra. At the same time, adult community members were trying to maintain their employment, working remotely, when possible.  In addition to adjusting in Mizra, this largely agricultural community was maintaining their fields in the far south, with the uncertainty regarding conditions and safety. To say that the Gevim community was under a lot of stress was an understatement.

During this time, our Partnership2Gether staff on the ground in Israel reached out to Gevim community members to offer support.  We learned about their kibbutz while they were staying in our northern community and assisted as needed. We also brought three Detroit solidarity missions to visit with Gevim kibbutz members, hear their stories and learn about their successes and challenges.

Abruptly, in early March 2024, the Israeli Government directed several communities from the Gaza Envelope, including Gevim, to return to their homes in the South almost immediately. This requirement sent shockwaves through the community once again, as they would need to rebuild the entire communal infrastructure for the third time in 5 months.

In the wake of October 7th, the need for comprehensive support has never been more apparent. Not only the physical rebuilding of infrastructure, but also psychological and emotional well-being, local leadership, professionals for formal education and social frameworks for youth at risks and economic development.  In the words of the Gevim leadership, perhaps the most important need of all at this time is the need to reconnect and foster “a sense of belonging to the greater Jewish story”.  The Michigan-Central Galilee Partnership2Gether program is continuing its commitment to being part of that story.  Recently, an Ann Arbor Solidarity delegation spent time in Gevim; and this summer, youth from Gevim will participate in the Elaine and Michael Serling Israeli Camper Program at Tamarack Camps alongside teens from our Partnership Region.

We look forward to sharing more stories about this beautiful new relationship and ways that you can connect to Gevim in the coming weeks and months.