WZOA Jewish Agency official reported yesterday that Project Renewal was showing signs of success and said the key to further progress was the active participation of local residents and greater involvement on the part of the adopting Jewish communities overseas.

Yehiel Admoni, director general of the Jewish Agency’s department for the renovation of neighborhoods, presented his report at the weekly meeting of the World Zionist Organization here. He said that several poverty stricken areas that had shown little inclination to change, have recently undergone an internal rejuvenation and are striving hard to succeed. Project Renewal is a joint venture of the Israel government, the Jewish Agency and American Jewry aimed at rehabilitating areas of poverty in Israel.

The project is currently underway in 69 Israeli neighborhoods for which $350 million has been pledged so far, Admoni said. “Certain communities undertook upon themselves a certain project and after a while, leaders of the community felt the project was too modest and they asked to be involved in further projects,” he said. Admoni noted that the original purpose of Project Renewal was the physical rehabilitation of poverty neighboods but the Jewish Agency has added another dimension and is striving for social rehabilitation as well.

He said this includes various plans for the development of communal leadership and complementary education programs for local youth. A by product was that Jewish communities overseas have become closer to the problems of “a different Israel than the one they had known before.” Admoni said. He said that contrary to recently voiced criticism, only five percent of the project’s budget is spent on administration.