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JNF Wire: Frontline Report - Bringing Smiles to Kids Faces During Difficult Days

Jewish National Fund Aids the Negev Bedouins of Segev Shalom

JNF WIRE

July 25, 2014

Contact:
Adam H. Brill
Director of Communications
212-879-9305 x222
 

FRONTLINE REPORT: BRINGING SMILES TO KIDS FACES DURING DIFFICULT DAYS

Jewish National Fund Aids the Negev Bedouins of Segev Shalom
By: Rivkah Lambert Adler

“You don’t understand how it feels to find someone who cares and gives with a full heart.”

If there ever was a community caught in the middle , it is the 9,000 Bedouins living in the village of Segev Shalom in the Negev region of southern Israel during the current conflict.

On the one hand, descended from nomadic Arab tribes whose ancestors migrated around the Negev desert in southern Israel for centuries, Israel’s Bedouins are Arab. Their mother tongue is Arabic. On the other hand, they identify strongly as Israelis. They vote in Israeli elections. And as many as 10% of the Bedouins eligible for military service serve in the Israel Defense Forces. If this split loyalty is confusing for adults, one can only imagine how confusing the current war in Gaza is for the children of Segev Shalom.

Community Building – JNF Making Lives Better in the Negev

One of  Jewish National Fund’s goals in making the Negev Desert home to tomorrow’s generation is ensuring the well-being and peaceful coexistence of all of its residents. So Karmit Arbel, JNF’s liaison with the Green Horizons youth movement, was charged with finding a way that JNF could help the Bedouins of Segev Shalom during the current crisis.

This past Sunday, Karmit reached out to her colleague Kinneret Bargil, head of the community center in Segev Shalom, and asked simply, “How can we help?” For Bargil, JNF’s expression of concern, and Arbel’s call, was the answer to a prayer.

Unlike most of the rest of Israel, the village of Segev Shalom - in constant rocket range from Gaza - was built without adequate bomb shelters. In fact, with the exception of a handful of newly-built homes, no one in the village has access to a bomb shelter at home. When sirens in Segev Shalom warn of  incoming missile fire from Gaza, there is virtually no place to run  and no safe place to go. The only bomb shelters in the village are located in the schools and community center.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, the company that works with local governments (and manages all the community centers in Israel) had also funded activities for children. However, on Monday, Bargil ran out of funds to keep the programs going.

In Segev Shalom, the challenge to keep the children occupied is not merely important, but  potentially life-saving. Every hour the children are in the school building is another hour they can run to a bomb shelter in the basement when necessary. This reality gives JNF’s support an extra measure of urgency.

After discussing how JNF could be most helpful to the children of Segev Shalom, Arbel and Bargil came up with a plan to extend the daytime activities in the school building for at least five additional days. Bargil agreed to oversee all the logistics and JNF agreed to cover all costs.

Picture this: 600 Bedouin children, ages five to 12, wearing matching T-shirts, imprinted with Arabic, in green, orange or yellow.  A team of 20 trained Bedouin youth leaders keeping the children safe and occupied. And four Hebrew-speaking, Jewish, Green Horizons youth leaders bringing with them so many supplies, they overtook a small office in the school.

The children squealed with delight as they watched the Jewish volunteers unload hundreds of pounds of games, puzzles and art supplies, including Styrofoam balls, construction paper and markers, and over 200 pounds of chocolate biscuits, mounds of dried coconut and cocoa powder for a no-bake chocolate ball-making activity.

Since the Bedouin population in Israel is Arab, they fall through the cracks of most Jewish organizational funding. In a voice filled with emotion, Kinneret Bargil praised JNF’s devotion to help the Bedouins in Segev Shalom saying, “You don’t understand how it feels to have someone who cares and gives with a full heart.”  

 # # #

JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.

 

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