Dom Community Center in Jerusalem

A Project of Domari - The Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem

From its beginnings until February 2005, Domari operated its programs from the home of Ms Amoun Sleem, the organization's founder and director. Programs have included English and Arabic language classes, food and clothing distributions, tutoring classes for children, and cultural enrichment events such as the annual "Gypsy Bazaar." The initial programs were contingent upon good weather since they were normally held on the varanda. In April of 2002 funds given through the DRC were used to enclose the veranda creating a temporary office and classroom space until additional funding could be raised to build or rent adequate facilities.

After several years of unsuccessful attempts at building in the Old City of Jerusalem, it was determined that facilities should be rented. In March 2005 the new "Gypsy Community Centre" opened in Shua’fat (East Jerusalem). Literacy classes for adults, as well as food preparation classes began shortly after the opening. Following a break-in in 2013, the Center relocated to an apartment in a new building in Shua’fat. The new, more secure facilities also included more space to expand the vital programs. The DRC assisted with the expenses for the relocation, and continues to be the primary financial partner through which individuals and organizations support the Community Center.

The Society continues to be in need of contributions to help support and enlarge these programs. The board of directors invites inquires from people who are interested in assisting with this work.

The situation of the Dom community in and around Jerusalem is a dire one. They live among the poverty stricken Arab population, among whom they are considered to be poor. The younger generation has lost the knowledge of the Gypsy language (Domari) and culture. Through the healthcare lectures and after-school tutoring programs, the Domari Society is beginning to make a difference in the community. This positive change can be seen in the lives of the children, among whom the average dropout age from school was twelve. The children involved in the tutoring program are staying in school and improving their scores.

The Domari Society of Gypsies is a non-profit society registered in Israel. Domari's declared aim is "advancing Gypsy culture and education in the Gypsy community in Israel; maintaining contact with other Gypsy communities around the world; and granting social and medical services to the needy in the Gypsy community."

In May of 2013 the Domari Society and the Dom Research Center entered into a formal partnership through which the DRC will assist with programs such as a "Gypsy Clothing Market," as well as hosting an internet outlet for Domari crafts. These programs, as well as others, will enable the Domari Society to be a self-directed, self-sustaining organization.

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