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50,000 Israeli Youth Converge on Negev Desert During Chanukah

Enjoy a Glimpse of the Country's Future: The South

Contact: Jodi Bodner JNF Director of Communications 212-879-9305 ext. 221 jbodner@jnf.org

December 27, 2006 --New York, NY-- For the second consecutive year, Hugai SayarutIsrael ’s elite youth movement, organized one of the country’s largest gatherings of youths for an exciting Negev  extravaganza.

The event that lasted for three days and three nights during the week of Chanukah attracted 50,000 participants from all over the country, up from last year’s count of 20,000. More than 18 youth groups participated, bringing the majority of the 17- and 18-year-old participants to the Negev in more than 1,000 buses.

Sponsored by Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-KKL), the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Education, Jewish Agency, and the OR Movement, the Negev extravaganza included visiting army bases, hiking riverbeds, performing community service, camping out under the starry skies, and learning about the environment, history and future of the Negev from community leaders, military commanders and KKL educators. 

Concerts were held each of the three nights in Park Yerucham, a project built by JNF, featuring community groups, army entertainers, and some of the most popular Israeli bands.

“The purpose of this event is to introduce the Negev to people and encourage them to come to the Negev to live, work and enjoy the beauty of the land,” said Sharon Davidovich, event organizer. “We want this population to know about JNF’s Blueprint Negev Campaign to develop the desert and dramatically change the region. Our focus this year was on the 17- and 18- year-olds. In a few years this is the group that will be performing their army service -- probably in the Negev -- and looking for opportunities to study, settle down, and find employment.  Many of these teens have never even been to the Negev; they are not aware of the opportunities down here.

“This year, in addition to the concert in Park Yerucham and our other activities, we had an exhibition featuring several army units, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Or Movement, which gave them information on job and housing opportunities in the Negev.”

Hila from Tel Aviv said it was one of her best Chanukah vacations. She loved being with her group and learning about new things. “Yesterday, we learned all about navigation,” said the teen. “I had no idea about navigating before. At night we camped out and put into practice what we learned during the day. It was kef (Hebrew for fun)! Today we are doing the army obstacle course, which is also fun. The army display was amazing. What I like most about this program is the individual and group exercise, the team spirit and all the new friends I have made. I didn’t know much about the Negev and each day I learn a little more. It is nice to see so much open area; it is not like Tel Aviv.”

Captions: Top: Concerts held each of the three nights in Park Yerucham attracted 10,000 Israeli teens at a clip.

Bottom: Teens from Israel's youth movements enjoyed various activities during the day such as obstacle courses at army bases in the area.

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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 www.jnf.org.

 

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In Israel the most precious commodity is water and it is at risk. Find out how you can help.

 

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