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JNF Wire: The Next Generation Finds its Place in Emek Hamaayanot

December 17, 2015
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
212-879-9305 x222
The Next Generation Finds its Place in Emek Hamaayanot
Gevasol North story pic1.jpg      

On a bright Friday morning during Chanukah, a group of 30 people gathered in Emek Hamaayanot for what might have seemed a typical “young adult program” comprised of good food, socializing, and “TED-style” presentations.  But the program, the people, and the venue were anything but typical.

The event was organized by Yael Barkan, the director of the Young Adult division of the Emek Hamaayanot Regional Council, in partnership with Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) Go North initiative.  With the support of JNF, the Regional Council, and local partners, Barkan is working to attract a dynamic new population to the area and encourage the region’s best and brightest to consider making the valley their permanent home.  

“There is a buzz happening here in the Valley,” says Barkan. “Finally, young people from the different communities throughout this area are realizing that they are not alone in this peripheral region. Meetings such as this one make them feel like they have partners and tools for actualizing their dreams and ideas right here.”

The recenlty opened Idan Technology Center is at the center of the buzz Barkan speaks of, and where the event took place.

Gevasol Wire story pic2.jpgDeveloped by the Gevasol Group, an Israeli company specializing in fluid and motion control products, the Center serves as a hub for technological innovation and education in the region. Half of the building is a functioning factory operated by Gevasol, and the other half contains labs with drafting tables and tools, cozy “brainstorming” rooms, and a fully equipped auditorium. Young adults and families can participate in cutting-edge courses and workshops on topics ranging from industrial electronics to cyber tech. The Center also offers open workshop days, where young innovators can develop projects, consult with mentors, and collaborate with peers. The onsite Gevasol manufacturing facility provides both an open classroom and a potential avenue for employment.

Participants in the event included young families, students, and some recently discharged soldiers. Barkan explains that most young people leave the area after their service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and not many see any reason to come back: “In the older, agricultural communities in the region, young adults struggle to find their voice. They are attracted to the values and quality of life here, but don’t feel like they can make an impact. We want people to see that there is an opportunity for revitalizing these communities while preserving what is special about them.” 

Gevasol Wire story pic3.jpgAmir, a veteran member of Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv, agrees to the need to show young people an alternative. One of the oldest in attendance, he came to the event in hopes of picking up information to convey to the next generation of his kibbutz. “Young people don’t want the same kind of kibbutz that once was, and justifiably so,” says Amir. “They want independence, they want to make a difference. We [the founders] are still trying to figure out what direction to take as a kibbutz, and they are eager to go, but, we have to give them opportunities.”

As the presentations revealed, there is no shortage of options for young adults in the Valley. Presenters included Barkan, Regional Council Head Yoram Karin, Gevasol founder Gidon Yedid, and several young community leaders. Each told their personal story as a way to invite participants to “find their own place” in the region. They also described some of the frameworks in which participants can get involved, including cultural events, community-based action teams, a community leadership training course, Idan Center workshops, and a Young Adult forum, which is comprised of 40 members from local communities. The 40 young leaders are responsible for galvanizing a range of events and activities related to topics concerning young adults aged 22-35, such as culture, higher education, employment, technology, and more. JNF’s support has given the project backbone, and helps young leaders forge connections, tap into resources, and imagine the future.  

Gevasol Wire story pic4.jpgOne successful initiative that grew out of the forum is the annual Building and Renovations Fair. “The fair grew out of our desire to help people save money and to promote businesses in the region,” explains Anat, one of the young women who initiated the project. The first fair in February 2015 brought over 30 businesses and building professionals — from architects to mezuza artists — to Emek Hamaayanot. Several hundred residents took advantage of the rare opportunity to utilize their expertise without needing to travel for hours. “People need to feel like things are available here; it’s hard to live in the periphery. The fair gives everyone a sense of how the valley is growing, and how they are part of something new and exciting,” Anat said.  

Inspired by the creative energy of the Idan Center and the optimistic presentations, one young participant from a nearby kibbutz is ready for more: “I really didn’t realize there were other people my age and in my field here. I look forward to getting more involved!” 

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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


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