The Israel Heritage Experience
Jewish National Fund (JNF) is committed to the preservation of historical sites throughout Israel ensuring that the stories behind each historical site are properly documented and can be retold for generations to come. The Heritage Site initiative enables JNF to share the past, the important events, the places, the struggles and the fight for Israel’s independence with Israelis and tourists alike. There are more than 150 heritage sites around the country that, thanks to JNF and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS), are open to the public to tell the important stories of Israel’s history and its path to independence. JNF and SPIHS are continuing to identify important sites and are working closely together to develop them into interesting visiting experiences for the public.
Historical sites funded to date include Bat Shlomo Historic Street in Bat Shlomo; Beit Eshel in Be'er Sheva; Binyamina's Founders' House in Carmel; Independence Hall in Tel Aviv; KKL-JNF Educational Center and Museum in Tel Aviv; and the Museum of Water and Security in the Negev in Kibbutz Nir Am.
Current projects include:
Ammunition Hill, Jerusalem
JNF, along with the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Government of Israel, is assisting in the development and renovation of the Ammunition Hill Memorial site. This restored site vividly portrays the siege of Jerusalem in the ‘67 War and serves as an educational center of the crucial battle waged there. Renovations include a series of interactive exhibits, informational stations, the reconstruction of the hill and trenches and a teen leadership program. Donate Here
Atlit "Illegal" Immigration Detention Camp
In 1939, the British issued the “White Paper,” severely limiting the number of Jews permitted to enter Palestine. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees attempted to reach the shores of Palestine, but many were intercepted at sea and incarcerated at the Atlit Detention Camp. Located just south of Haifa, Atlit remained active through the end of the British Mandate in 1948. Many who were interred there were Holocaust survivors who had just made it out of the Nazi concentration camps only to end up behind barbed wire once again. In 1945, the Palmach carried out a daring operation, led by a young Yitzhak Rabin and Nahum Sarig, which freed 208 detainees from Atlit. Today, the 25-acre camp serves as a museum that tells the poignant story of a people desperate to start a new life in their homeland. Donate Here
Ayalon Institute, Rehovot
Between 1946 and 1949, the Ayalon Institute functioned as a secret, underground bullet factory that made the ammunition used in the struggle for Israeli independence. Under the disguise of a kibbutz above, the bullet manufacturing below was concealed from the British authorities. This factory would develop into what is today called IMI (Israel Military Industries). The factory’s openings were covered by a 10-ton oven and a large washing machine that camouflaged the noise of manufacturing bullets. The Ayalon Institute was the largest IMI factory to operate underground and produced over 2.5 million bullets during its brief time in operation. Donate Here
Gush Etzion Visitor Center
The Gush Etzion Visitor Center at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion is a memorial to the heroic men and women who gave their lives to protect the communities of the Etzion Bloc—strategically located between Jerusalem and Hebron—during Israel’s War of Independence. This important site, declared a National Heritage Project by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Kibbutz Movement, is now undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion. The run-down museum is to be transformed into a modern, sophisticated, interactive visitor center that will preserve the story of Gush Etzion for generations to come. Donate Here
Tel Hai Museum
The museum is devoted to the dramatic events of 1920, when Tel-Hai and some other Jewish settlements in the Upper Galilee were cut off from the central part of the country and attacked. Yosef Trumpeldor was at the head of the battle and was killed with other seven soldiers. These events were the first test of the security of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel and every year people gather here to honor the heroes. Following the historic battle, survivors returned to rebuild Tel Hai, despite strong sentiment within Yishuv leadership to abandon the Upper Galilee settlements. These dedicated pioneers established a stable presence that effectively guaranteed the inclusion of the Upper Galilee in the territory of the British Mandate, and later within the boundaries of the State of Israel. Donate Here
Women of Valor Center, Nitzanim
The Women of Valor Center is a testament to the brave women who sacrificed everything to secure the future of Israel, particularly the three who fell during the Battle of Nitzanim during the War of Independence. With the onset of the Egyptian invasion of Israel in May 1948, Nitzanim was cut off from the center of the country, and while women and children were evacuated in “Baby Operation,” some insisted on staying behind to defend the kibbutz with the men. One of those three women was Mira Ben-Ari, who helped her wounded commander walk towards the Egyptian tanks, while waving the white flag of surrender. They shot her commander and, Ben Ari, in the brief moment before being killed herself, seized the opportunity to shoot the Egyptian commander. Adjacent to a memorial sculpture of the Jewish Fighting Women is a quote by Mira Ben Ari, who wrote, “I separate from my child so that he can grow up in a safe place, so that he can be a free man in our land.” In this short sentence we understand the impossible choice that faced the women who fought at Nitzanim and across Israel in her many wars: to leave their children and fight, and perhaps die, so that their children might have a chance for life. Donate Here
Yad Mordechai Museum, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai
This museum is dedicated to the Battle of Yad Mordechai, which was fought between Egypt and Israel during the War of Independence. This battle forced a five-day delay of the Egyptian forces advance, which gave the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) the time they needed to organize a defensive line against the northward Egyptian drive toward Tel Aviv. Kibbutz Yad Mordechai was founded in the 1930s and renamed in 1943 after Mordechai Anielewicz, who was the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
In the middle of the Motza Valley and next to the town’s synagogue, stands the historic Yellin House – the first house built in Motza in 1890. Built by Yehoshua Yellin, the home is a symbol of the beginning of agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel. On the site he planted a vineyard and a garden, and also purchased more lands to continue the growth of the community at Motza. It was the beginning of agriculture, industry, and private entrepreneurship in Israel, at a time when the Jewish population just began settling beyond the limits of walled Jerusalem. Donate Here
As a part of its $1 Billion Roadmap for the Next Decade, JNF is committed to raising $100 million for Heritage Sites.