New Rec Center For Sderot's Children to be Completed in January
Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • firstname.lastname@example.org
November 7, 2008 -- New York-- The children of Sderot will soon be able to play without fear.
Several Sderot families were on hand at a ceremony last week marking the first stage completion of a secure indoor recreational facility in Sderot being funded and built by Jewish National Fund (JNF). They were joined by Israel’s Minister of the Negev and Galilee Development Yaakov Edri, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Head Alon Shuster, and 50 JNF President’s Council mission participants who were in Israel on a weeklong tour.
“When somebody told me about the project, I couldn't believe it could be built in such a short period of time,” said one teenager. “But now I see that the facility will be complete in a matter of months and I can’t believe it.”
Embracing a fun, family-oriented theme, the creative and colorful 20,000-square-foot facility is being developed in a former textile factory. The $5 million project, begun in May, should be completed in January 2009.
“During periods of rocket attacks, there is nowhere for kids to go, except to school and then back home,” said JNF President Stanley Chesley. “At a time of uneasy quiet when most IDF analysts believe that Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip are rearming, JNF is also using the ‘time-out’ to complete this important project for the children of Sderot and surrounding communities.”
JNF CEO Russell Robinson conveyed that JNF’s motivation for the project was not just the constant attacks on Sderot and the surrounding communities, but a desire to provide something for the area’s residents for the “the day after, the year after and the decade after.”
“The center will benefit the community for recreation, education and become a source of pride for the children and their families,” he said. “This building is not just an indoor playground or a shelter but one of the finest facilities available anywhere. It will give parents something they deserve -- the laughter of their children.”
“Finally, Sderot will have a decent place to hang out in and we will not have to travel somewhere else,” said an area teenager.
Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said, “Unfortunately, I believe Sderot has more tough times ahead and this is why JNF is investing in this important project. I hope there will come a time when we won’t need such facilities, but for now we will be ready to face the future.”
Mission participants and project donors Harold Kaplan and Robin Katz of Chicago emphasized the need to “make Sderot a livable place” in light of the constant threat of attacks from the Gaza Strip. They described the importance of the indoor recreation facility being a concrete measure to accomplish this goal.
Martin and Gail Komisar of Milwaukee, mission participants and project donors who also attended the Sderot ceremony, expressed their participation in the project as stemming from their love of children and desire to provide relief for the area’s youngest generation.
Able to accommodate 500 people, the indoor site for children is divided into two areas part of which is intended for infants and toddlers with another section designed for children in elementary and high school. The site will boast a media and computer center, climbing wall, zip line, a mock “shopping mall” for dolls, teddy bears and action figures, birthday party area and a cafeteria as well as an enclosed mini soccer field that doubles as a disco in the evening. Psychologists will also be on-site with intervention for children and families in need of their services, seniors will use the facility in the mornings for social activities, a theater group will practice in it, Sapir College students will work in it, and after-school tutring and a medical station will be available.
After removing the building’s original infrastructure, the project’s contractor, who is exceeding Israel Defense Forces’ building standards and regulations, is implementing the facility’s design with 100% Israeli materials. Since it would be unfeasible to protect the entire building against incoming rocket attacks with a heavy, concrete roof, the structure is designed with multiple reinforced shelters that also serve as functional, interior areas. The compartmentalized shelters provide instant protection when alarms warning imminent attack give a 15-second advance warning. An additional shelter outside the site for children and their families waiting to enter will also stand.
There are approximately 5,000 children in Sderot and the surrounding communities that will benefit from the JNF initiative. Supporting plans call for a free hourly shuttle bus that will transport families to and from the indoor structure.
Present at the recognition ceremony, NY resident Andrew Wilshinksy put it succinctly: “Once you go on a mission, you believe in the mission.”
For information on the Sderot playground or to make a donation, visit www.jnf.org/sderotplayground.
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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.
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