The Power of Music: JNF Unveils a Media Center and Marks 10 Year Anniversary of Safety for Sderot Residents


For the better part of the past two decades, the community of Sderot has borne the brunt of the violence and aggression Hamas terrorists in Gaza have directed toward Israel. By the end of November 2007, over 6,300 rockets had hit Sderot—located less than one mile from the border—in less than five years, with the escalation only building.  

Last week, over 150 lay leaders from Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF), joined Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi and community members to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the opening of Jewish National Fund’s Sderot Indoor Recreation Center, a 21,000 square foot bombproof facility that has been a symbol of the Sderot community’s resilience since 2009. “This place is not just a safe haven,” said Terry Katz, from Bala Cynwyd, PA, adding, “Seeing the unbelievable joy and excitement when we officially opened, and it was the Purim carnival, was amazing. Ten years later, I look at this with a different kind of appreciation that this place is here, especially in recent years.”


For Jewish National Fund, the commitment to Sderot extends past times of emergency, standing side by side with residents before, during, and after crises. 

“When you go to Sderot, Eshkol, Halutza, and Sha’ar Hanegev—all located in the Gaza Envelope—we have a relationship of equal debate, involvement, and dreaming for the future,” said JNF CEO Russell F. Robinson. “It’s a relationship that allows them to push us, and we push them. It is a relationship based on the vision of what could be. Today, Sderot has 4,000 new housing sites, and it’s a place where Israelis come to live. This is happening in the places where Jewish National Fund invests time and effort in serious decision making.” 

In addition to gathering to mark the anniversary, JNF unveiled a new Media Center, dedicated in memory of Ellen P. Rosenberg (z’’l) of Baltimore, MD, whose compassion and commitment to helping Israel inspired the many present at the playground. “Music filled our home, usually with my mom’s record player playing the Beatles on repeat,” said Shira Blatt, Rosenberg’s daughter. 


Following the unveiling of the plaque in memory of Rosenberg, close friends and family shared some remarks on the importance of Israel to Rosenberg and her generosity. “I see a lot of friends here today, and Ellen will always be in our hearts. Ellen lived for JNF and Israel, and I was the luckiest guy in the world to be married to her,” said husband Cary Besmanoff.


The Ellen P. Rosenberg Media Room in the Sderot Indoor Recreation Center will be a place where the children and families of Sderot know they have a place where they can feel safe, while also enjoying music, entertainment, and having fun.


For Mayor Alon Davidi, the partnership with JNF is a symbol for the future of his community. “I feel that we are a big family, and I know I have a partner in JNF, in order to help the community and people of Sderot. Together, we will continue our mission to build a better, brighter, and more secure future of the people of Sderot.”



Alyse Golden Berkley

“Three year ago, Sol Lizerbram, initiated a program that would improve the quality of life the children in Sderot, replacing the sounds of rockets with the sounds of music.  This unique program open a new world for the children of this community, by promoting the importance of music, for many who would otherwise not have the financial resources to participate. 

Ellen loved supporting children, and the community of Sderot.  This is where the JNF will forever remember Ellen, in a place filled with children’s music and laughter.  We brought for the children Ellen’s favorite candy, See’s Candy. 


I want to thank JNF for the sisterhood and brotherhood that JNF fosters within us, helping to carry out our mission to build a better and stronger Israel.


We met on a JNF tour honoring Israel’s 60 years of independence, and I found my soul sister.  Everything we did was just one year apart, but it took Israel and JNF to bring us together.  Ellen was a committed Zionist.  She viewed every aspect of her live through the lens of Judaism and Zionism.  Tzedakah and acts of kindness filled her home, and community.”



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