Sep 27, 2021  By Noa Zer  Category: Blueprint Negev,

How JNF-USA Transformed the Desolate Desert into a Blooming Oasis

I will never forget the first time I visited the Arava. It was right after I met my then boyfriend, now husband, 20 years ago.

He took me to meet his parents in Moshav Paran in the Central Arava. I remember I woke up in the morning by the sounds of birds singing, going outside with a cup of morning coffee and just breathing deeply.

I looked east and saw the beautiful red mountains of Jordan, beneath them I saw nothing but desert sand. I looked to the west, north and south and was surrounded by greenhouses, green spots of trees and grass, people's homes were decorating the desert view and the sounds of children laughing on their way to kindergarten echoed all over the community.

This was the first time I realized what an enormous task it was to take a piece of desolated desert and turn it into a blooming oasis.

It was that feeling of overcoming challenges that drove my husband and me, who was born and raised in the Arava, to relocate to the Moshav after we got married.

It was only when I started to work as the regional's council resource developer in 2011 that I fully acknowledged the extent of challenges the people of the Arava were facing for decades and what it will take to further develop the region. From the lack of water, here in the desert from all places, to the lack of basic services, to the need for more infrastructures, it seemed that wherever you looked there were challenges all around. It was such a large mission that almost no one was willing to take it on.

I say almost no one because there was one organization that was up for the challenge: Jewish National Fund-USA. For us, the people who choose to live in the harsh Arava desert, JNF-USA is more than a key strategic partner. Our friends from JNF-USA are like our family members that believe in us and go along with our wildest dreams and visions because they share the same passion and the same values.


It's like the first time I stepped into the JNF-USA Medical Center after praying and dreaming about it for so long. I walked into this amazing inviting building and a feeling of safety surrounded me.

It's that same feeling as when your mother is hugging you as a child when you're crying, and her support makes you know it's going to be all right. This life changing project that affects the lives of everyone from the Arava community is just an example of a wild idea that turned into reality only when JNF-USA stepped in and made it happen. That's because it's what you do when your family is in need.

Together with our friends from JNF-USA, we are not just improving the quality of life for the people of the Arava. Together we are building kindergartens, creating job opportunities, bringing water to the farms and homes of the communities, providing basic medical and security services and changing the face of the Arava for the better.

We have been on a long journey with JNF-USA, one that has taken us from a small farming community in the middle of the desert to a growing, diverse, developing community. A community that presents real alternative to people like myself, who was born and raised in the center of Israel, but can no longer afford the lifestyle of the cities and wish to live in a community and family oriented productive community with strong connection to the land and people. Now we have the perfect place to live because of this perfect partnership.