8 months ago


Walking Through Israel

Walking Through Israel in the Footsteps of JNF You haven’t really lived until you’ve sipped a glass of wine in the Galilee while taking in the view of the sprawling lush and green forests on the horizon. I had the pleasure of that Zen-like experience last year while learning about Western Galilee Now, a super Chamber of Commerce aiming to ramp up tourism and the economy in Israel’s underdeveloped North. Jewish National Fund, the driving force behind all of this, as part of its ambitious Go North campaign, has a goal of bringing 300,000 new residents to the region. Two years ago JNF opened the Western Galilee Tourist Information Center, and since the Chamber’s inception six years ago, 60 small businesses have joined and are seeing positive growth with increased sales, tourist visits, and repeat customers. At the opposite end of the country – the Negev Desert – JNF’s presence is felt as well. The Lauder Employment Center, for example, has become an integral part of the equation for those looking to move down South. And moving South they are. Beersheba is currently the fastest growing city in Israel and JNF’s Blueprint Negev campaign is working hard to maintain the momentum. As such, JNF hopes to bring 500,000 people to the Negev in the next decade and has invested millions in a strategic plan to realize that. Its largest and most expensive project to date is the Beersheba River Park Complex under construction in the heart of the city. Twice the size of Manhattan’s Central Park, the complex already has a 13,000-seat amphitheater, a historical site, and an eight-kilometer (five-mile) promenade. The coming months will bring a 22.5-acre man-made lake, restaurants, kiosks and 20,000 housing units surrounding it. In the near future, recycled water will flow through the now often dry riverbed through the city, and help spark a return of wildlife and ecological systems. Beersheba may have started off as a diamond in the rough for Jewish National Fund, but has quickly become the nonprofit’s crown jewel in the Negev. But JNF’s reach is not limited to Israel’s furthest areas. As an organization dedicated to improving the lives of all Israelis, its work is felt throughout the country. With its innovative water programs, for example, Jewish National Fund has ensured that no Israeli will ever go thirsty. It has built 250 reservoirs and works closely with organizations like the Sorek Water Desalination Plant, which provides clean water to 1.5 million people. It also supports educational programs such as Green Horizons to teach young children the value of water conservation by creating rainwater harvesting programs in schools and helps preserve water for Bedouin residents in the Negev through Project Wadi Attir. To one who largely associates Jewish National Fund with trees and the iconic Blue Box, news of these and other projects may come as a surprise. While JNF has certainly not turned its back on its rich history – one that is so intertwined with the creation of Israel – it spends millions preserving historical sites like Ammunition Hill, the Atlit Detention Camp and more. Under Chairman of the Board-Emeritus Ronald S. Lauder, CEO Russell F. Robinson, and President Dr. Sol Lizerbram, JNF looks beyond the trees to see the forest. As Israel turns 70, JNF is maturing, growing and learning with it – envisioning innovative ways to combat its challenges, while celebrating its accomplishments. This magazine will give readers a brief overview of all of the work JNF has done, is doing and will continue do to ensure Israel thrives for 70 more years and beyond. Chag sameach, Noa Amouyal Senior Features Editor 4 8 10 12 14 16 18 Table of Contents Branching Out 100 Days of Success Focusing on the Ability, not the Disability Doing the ‘Hard Stuff ’ Keeping Israel’s History Alive Looking to the Future Tzedaka Savvy Editor: Noa Amouyal Graphics: Noam Elisha & Daniel Feigel Strategic Marketing Manager: Reut Levy Laursen *All photos courtesy of JNF-USA unless otherwise stated. 2 800.JNF.0099

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