JNF Makes Israel's Forests, Parks and Nature Trails Inclusive & Accessible to All
Just a few decades ago curb cuts and other modifications for people with disabilities were considered revolutionary. But as curb cuts in the sidewalks and ramps to buildings have slowly appeared, their usefulness has been widespread, not only for the wheelchair bound, but also for mothers walking children in strollers, bike riders, senior citizens who can walk but need a flat surface, and other populations.
The Mayerson/JNF Inclusive Parks Project has made the problem of inaccessible JNF projects a priority. The generous gift from the Cincinnati-based Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation along with the Cincinnati Community has enabled JNF to create an inclusive and accessible park at Nahal HaShofet, a model for future parks to follow.
Jewish National Fund is meeting the challenge by designing "inclusive" facilities such as parks, picnic areas, playgrounds, leisure corners, nature trails, lookouts and other recreational facilities in Israel - that allows everyone, with and without disabilities, to experience them the same way. The goal is to upgrade all existing JNF parks and forests throughout Israel.
Picnic tables and barbecue installations are built and placed to suit wheelchairs and special playground and sport structures have been installed. Projects for people with visual disabilities have explanatory signs in Braille and landscaping focuses on aromatic plants, whose strong aroma heightens the sensory experience. Nature trails are paved for easier access for the wheelchair bound as well as strategically placed rest rooms. These developments have opened many new recreational opportunities in nature for Israelis.
Examples of JNF’s work on behalf of people with disabilities can be seen all over Israel.
HaShofet River Trail, Ramot Menashe Park
In the 20,000 acres, JNF designed a unique trail for people with and without disabilties that meanders along the Nahal Hashofet stream so visitors can see flowers the riverbank flora. A wheelchair-accessible trail leads from the Nachal Shofet waterfall and wading pool through enchanting shrubbery past dense reeds and flourmills to Ein Ami near Kibbutz HaZorea. The base is flat and stabilized with the water level. A wooden path runs along the riverbed with benches and resting spots and lovely scenery. Riverbank vegetation includes fig trees, where one sees the first fruits in spring and ripe fruits in the summer. JNF and the Lotem Foundation partnered for this project.
One of JNF’s largest and most important projects is the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Disabled Veterans’ Park (Park Halohem in Hebrew) in the Haruvit Forest built in cooperation with the Organization of IDF Disabled and Hadassah Women’s Organization.
Located in the center of the country, between Beit Shemesh and Re’em (Masmiya) Junction. It contains scores of picnic sites, adapted specially for people with disabilities, including restrooms, paved paths with a slight slope, picnic and barbeque corners. A special feature of this park is game elements such as fitness equipment, target shooting, as well as swings and slides, that can be enjoyed by someone confined to a wheel chair. A broad asphalt path, over a kilometer in length, makes a real outing in the beautiful forest possible.
Shimshit Forest, located on archaeological remains, has a unique 1 km asphalt paved trail adapted for people with disabilities through the shade of conifers, oaks, pines, terebinths, cedars, and eucalyptus trees, to mention only a few.
Lake Hula Bird Observatory
At this major bird migration site, vehicles can approach very close to the pools where, for most of the year, large flocks of birds, mainly pelicans and water fowl, can be seen. The path leading up to the observation balcony is asphalted, and the balcony itself is constructed in such a way that one can also enjoy the sights when seated in a wheel chair.
Beit Keshet Forest Scenic Route
The Alonei Beit Keshet observation point in the center of the 15 km scenic route that passes Tabor Oaks and overlooks the Lower Galilee and the hills of Nazareth, contains a beautiful scenic promenade, a paved and roofed plaza and a paved and secured access road. In addition, the Forester’s House Picnic Site along the route has been adapted for people with disabilities with a special picnic plaza with round tables, suitable restrooms, an asphalted path of almost 1 km with an appropriate slope and a covered scenic balcony.
Ben Shemen Forest
Ben Shemen Forest, the largest park in Israel. has a section especially adapted for people with visual disabilities, where every path is lined by a chain which can be of assistance to those who do not see the way, with a change in the walking surface before each turn. Along the path are prominent explanatory signs about the trees of natural woodland and the surrounding vegetation. Through smell, one can identify various herbs. There are large print signs explaining the rocks and wind chimes wind emit soft, pleasant sounds and mark the beginning of the road and prominent stations along it.
Hadassah Picnic Site
A picnic site adapted for the physically challenged, between the villages of Bar Giora and Nes Harim, overlooking Nachal Soreq and the Jerusalem Hills. A balcony and observation point, is made of wooden slats with outlook positions of a suitable heigh for people in wheelchairs. Paved paths, prominently marked in red, come from Road 375 and turn at the Bar Giora Junction towards Road 3866, about half-a-kilometer past Har Behar, where there is a coffee shop and a pleasant spot which also has accessible restrooms.
These are just some of the sites which can be enjoyed by people with and without disabilities. JNF is committed to updating as many of its sites as possible. Help us make all of Israel's parks inclusive
Get involved and Donate to Inclusive Parks . For naming opportunities call your local office at 888-JNF-0099.