JNF National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman and New England Director Sara Hefez recently returned from a JNF professional mission, seeing first-hand how JNF is enriching the land of Israel for all its inhabitants.
“In my heart, Israel is my home,” shared Freedman, who led the trip. “The 21 development professionals who participated in our JNF Boot Camp who are now back in their respective communities, will share our JNF vision and raise much-needed funds for the land and people of Israel.”
JNF CEO Russell F. Robinson travelled with the group and shared, “It is always a proud moment for me to show off JNF’s amazing work to our organization’s hard-working professionals. They are a dedicated group of people who work tirelessly to promote our vision for Israel.”
The group visited projects throughout the country, focusing on important sites in the Negev Desert. Through Blueprint Negev, JNF is helping the Negev blossom and is realizing the full potential of the region for Israel’s economic future. The cornerstone of this initiative is the revitalization of the city of Be’er Sheva, turning a sleepy pass-through town into the capital of the South.
JNF’s Blueprint Negev successes include: the Be’er Sheva’s expansive River Park, a 1,700-acre civic paradise; the OR Movement’s headquarters which assists prospective residents relocate to new communities that have waiting lists of families seeking an affordable enriched lifestyle; children and adults with special needs receiving extraordinary services at Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran; and the Sderot Indoor Recreation Center, a safe haven for children and families who live under constant barrage of rocket fire.
“The most inspiring aspect of my mission was seeing the progress that has been made since my first JNF trip in 2005. The evolution and advancement, particularly in Be’er Sheva, is breathtaking,” said Hefez. “I am proud to be a part of this new chapter of Israel’s development in the history of the modern Jewish State.”
One of the most exciting facets of JNF’s vision is the utilization of the Negev as a template for agricultural development in arid lands across the globe. The Negev’s climate is a training ground for farmers from the developing world. Due to abundant and powerful sunshine, alternative energy research thrives. The leadership mission visited a classroom of Cambodian and Nepalize farmers who learn agricultural theory at JNF’s Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT), where the students work four days in the kibbutzim fields and have one day of classroom study per week. The program provides a primary link between these countries and Israel.
For more information about JNF’s missions and tours, visit jnf.org/travel or call 888-JNF-0033.
Top row L-R: JNF National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman and New England Director Sara Hefez. Bottom row L-R: Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL) World Chairman Efi Stenzler and JNF Chief Executive Officer Russell F. Robinson
In the time-honored tradition of JNF, Hefez planted a tree at the Harvey Hertz-JNF Ceremonial Tree Planting Center at Neot Kedumim, the world's only biblical landscape reserve, in honor of Tu BiShvat, the Jewish New Year for trees.