JNF is working to improve the quality of life for residents of forgotten cities in Israel through a variety of programs.
The Negev towns of Arad, Dimona, Yerucham and Ofakim were founded by the Israel government in the 1950s to absorb the wave of immigrants from North Africa, Egypt, Iran and later, Ethiopia. Be’er Sheva, a city with a glorious past, has become a community that, aside from Ben Gurion University, has seen little or no growth for decades. Today, these towns suffer from neglect, with high unemployment and low self-image.
How JNF is Helping
Building new communities is just one aspect of JNF’s work to encourage population growth in the Negev; it goes hand-in-hand with initiatives to revitalize established cities, towns, and regions that have long been neglected. Development towns are being seeded with employment opportunities and are undergoing infrastructure upgrades, while kibbutzim and moshavim whose growth has stagnated are being bolstered.
- JNF’s Be’er Sheva River Park project is changing the face of the city and restoring it to its former glory as the Capitol of the Negev.
- JNF’s is committed to the Central Arava, a remote region along Israel’s Jordanian border. With a goal of doubling its population by 2020, JNF supports several key projects, including the construction of the Arava Medical Center, which will serve the 3,700 local residents who until now have had to travel 80 miles to receive proper medical attention.
- JNF’s Yerucham 2020 Task Force was established in 2012 to focus on increasing the population of Yerucham. The task force is working to help the municipality prioritize its needs, which include rebranding itself as an attractive tourist site, retaining families and attracting new ones by assisting with innovative housing options, developing a first-rate school system, and many more. JNF has also built a a new Youth Center to fulfill a pressing local need and a state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant, which provides water for the Yerucham Lake and irrigation for public gardens.
- In Arad, JNF’s President’s Society Mission dedicated a skate park that has already become a favorite hangout for the town’s youth and JNF continues to work with the city as it strives to become a green community. A task force is being formed to focus on the needs of this development town as well.
- JNF supported construction on Yahel Park, a five-acre tourist complex and park at the entrance to Kibbutz Yahel in the southern Arava. The park will create scores of jobs for kibbutz members and local residents and have a major impact on the Arava’s economy. JNF is also supporting the expansion of Kibbutz Yahel with the development of 39 new housing sites.
- Construction recently began on a youth club in the northern Negev community of Even Shmuel, which was established in 1956 and has set a goal of absorbing 280 new families. Central to this plan is the creation of local institutions that will provide religious, community and cultural services to enhance the area’s appeal to new residents.
Community Expansion at Kibbutz Yahel, B'Yachad Summer 2012, page 23
Helping Arava Farmers Grow, B'Yachad Summer 2012, page 23
Get involved and Donate to Strengthening Existing Communities. For naming opportunities call your local office at 888-JNF-0099.