President Shimon Peres Launches Negev Information Center
Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • firstname.lastname@example.org
February, 2009 -- Be’er Sheva, Israel -- The President of Israel, Shimon Peres, gave testament to the importance of developing the Negev Desert by chiseling off a cornerstone piece of Jewish National Fund (JNF)-OR's “Gateway to the Negev” Center in Be'er Sheva last week.
Joined for the ceremony by Ruvik Danilovich, mayor of Be'er Sheva; Roni Flamer, CEO and founder of the OR Movement; Alon Badihi, executive director of JNF-USA in Israel; and other dignitaries, Peres said: "I am very moved to see young, enthusiastic people with passion in their eyes, who view the development of the Negev as a national mission."
Said Danilovich: "This region is going to be the next trend. The center of the country is overcrowded and congested. It's time to turn to the Negev."
Set to open in six months, Gateway to the Negev is located in an impressive 100-year-old Ottoman building in the Old City of Be'er Sheva. It is expected to play a significant role in Blueprint Negev, JNF’s major initiative to revitalize Israel’s southern region by increasing its population and improving living conditions for all its inhabitants.
Gateway to the Negev will operate as a pivotal information center, providing visitors with all the relevant information about housing, employment, education, culture, tourism, and community life in the south. Many of the users will be those considering settling in the region, either in one of the new flourishing communities founded by OR and supported by JNF-USA, in Be’er Sheva itself, or in other area towns, kibbutzim, and moshavim.
The purchase of this historic monument, as well as the plans for its renovation, was made possible by generous donations from JNF-USA, Jewish Federation of Palm Springs & the Desert Area and Samuel Delug from Los Angeles, CA.
"The Negev represents the future of Israel and as such we must make it a desirable place for tomorrow’s generations of Israel’s residents,” said JNF's Chief Executive Officer Russell F. Robinson. “It abounds with potential and possibilities. It is up to us to make them come alive. Already the energy is palpable; we are doing it.”
Said Ronald S. Lauder, JNF’s chairman of the board: “The renaissance of Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev, is the key to transforming the Negev into the place to be. David Ben Gurion dreamed it; we are making his dream a reality.”
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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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