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Festival in Be'er Sheva Draws Thousands

Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 •

April 15, 2010—New York, NY – Who would have believed it?

Traditionally, millions of visitors traverse the length and width of Israel during the Passover holiday taking advantage of the fine spring weather and family vacation time. But never has the Negev city of Be’er Sheva attracted a crowd.

Until now.

More than 50,000 people – from as nearby as Be’er Sheva itself to as far away as Haifa and the Galilee – enjoyed the games, rock concert, street fair, crafts, hikes, biking, horseback riding, food, zipline, and children’s entertainment that marked the first-ever Be’er Sheva River Park festival and served as a debut of sorts for the amazing transformation that the city and the river park are undergoing. Sponsored by Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the municipality of Be’er Sheva, it was a great success.

“I had no idea there was even a park here,” said one attendee.

That’s about to change.

As the centerpiece of JNF's Blueprint Negev campaign to sustainably develop the southern region for the next generation of Israel’s residents, the renaissance of the ancient city of Be’er Sheva and the creation of a 1,700-acre central park are well underway. The old Turkish city itself is experiencing a gentrification as young people are moving in refurbishing the old homes, and opening restaurants, galleries and stores.

The planned recreation and waterfront district also underway is modeled after the very successful San Antonio River Walk. The 1,700- acre park, designed to serve the diverse population of Be’er Sheva and the surrounding areas, runs along the once-polluted Be’er Sheva River, which has been cleaned and restored. When completed, it will include 15 kilometers of promenades, a 20-acre lake filled with recycled water, a 12,000-seat amphitheater for performing arts, bike and nature trails, and more. A pedestrian bridge will connect the Bedouin  Market on the northern bank of the river to the main promenade on the southern bank.

Today the park includes open areas, playgrounds, promenades, and two historical sites that tell the story of the city from its beginnings in ancient history until today.

On the second evening of the festival, during a break in the concert, Be’er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich addressed the young crowd. “This is going to be the biggest and most impressive park in the country and will have lots of wonderful attractions,” he said. “The park will contribute to the welfare of the residents of Be’er Sheva and the surrounding areas, and will promote the economy and tourism in the city and the entire Negev.”

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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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