As thousands of people from across the world celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, Jewish National Fund-USA—the organization whose hundreds of millions of trees created the lush green terrain and forests of the Jewish nation and today is developing its north and south—is proud to announce that over 600,000 donors have resoundingly responded to the 10-year One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade campaign by generating $505 million in just four years.
The billion-dollar campaign channels Jewish National Fund-USA’s values for groundbreaking (literally, in many cases) new ventures and calls for philanthropic investment in a range of initiatives, with the focus on the core areas of connecting the next generation to Israel; community building in Israel’s frontier; infrastructure, ecology, special needs; and heritage preservation.
Dr. Sol Lizerbram, president of Jewish National Fund-USA, remarked: “Thanks to our stakeholders, the most passionate and dedicated Zionists in philanthropy today, we’ve reached the half-a-billion mark well ahead of schedule, and I look forward to us meeting the goal line also ahead of schedule. By meeting our key objectives, we are bringing to fruition all of JNF-USA’s plans in the Roadmap for the benefit of the land and people of Israel, and the Jewish people everywhere.”
Since the campaign was launched, Jewish National Fund-USA has introduced the revolutionary $100 million JNF Boruchin Education Center to strengthen and grow young people’s connection to the land and people of Israel. The center funds a multitude of engagement programs and along with generous donors, includes support for the popular Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission to Israel that brings 70 non-Jewish college student leaders from across the U.S. to Israel, the Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel (of which more than 230 professors have taken part), and Alexander Muss High School in Israel (where 1,200 students annually take college prep classes abroad for a semester).
Twenty-five percent of the billion-dollar campaign has been invested in engaging the next generation through Jewish National Fund-USA programming that reaches 15,000 children, kindergarten through middle school; recruiting 1,000 young people each year to send to Birthright Israel through Shorashim; subsidizing 1,700 college students on Alternative Break to Israel during the last four years; and reaching 10,000 college students on nearly 60 campuses across the U.S. with Positively Israel programming and speakers.
Building infrastructure and communities represents more than 40 percent of the roadmap, and since 2014 Jewish National Fund has opened new medical centers in the Central Arava and the southern Negev town of Halutza (with the Helmsley Charitable Trust). Jewish National Fund-USA has helped alleviate Israel’s growing housing crisis by assisting in the development of more than 800 housing sites in the Negev and Galilee, and plans call for developing an additional 1,000 home sites over the next three years. In the southern Israel towns of Yerucham, Arad, Mitzpe Ramon and Ofakim, Jewish National Fund-USA has been a partner in improving quality of life infrastructure to improve the socio-economic opportunities for the residents.
Jewish National Fund-USA has built new fire stations and bought scores of new fire trucks for Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services. When 10,000 acres burned in late 2016, plans were modified to build 10 new fire stations and add a hundred new fire trucks.
Jewish National Fund-USA has added new parks across Israel and new buildings and program areas so individuals with disabilities and special needs have the proper care and services. Special in Uniform, a JNF program, has transformed all members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by integrating 360 disabled soldiers into the IDF to perform their national service.
Jewish National Fund-USA opened the Western Galilee Tourist Information Center in Akko to bring tourists to the Galilee and boost the local economy. In the Negev, the city of Be’er Sheva is growing by leaps and bounds with a huge new river park, 23-acre lake, the largest outdoor amphitheater in Israel and the new tourist destination site Abraham’s Well. Through the Lauder Employment Center, Jewish National Fund-USA is solving the challenge of meaningful work in this remote region with its introduction of more than 10 NetGEV job training centers, partnerships with Fortune 100 companies and community groups to provide jobs and the means to stay and raise families in the fastest-growing city in Israel’s Negev Desert.
Jewish National Fund-USA has the special mission of preserving Israel’s history, and the independence experience in particular, and in recent years the organization opened a new commemoration hall, museum and amphitheater at Ammunition Hill, a new museum in Gush Etzion, and added important new exhibits at the Ayalon Bullet Factory and the Atlit Detention Camp—all sites important to Israel’s early history.
Working with partner Nefesh B’ Nefesh, Jewish National Fund-USA has helped bring over 50,000 new immigrants, olim, from North America to Israel to begin new lives in the north and south, giving them access to job training, resources for starting their own businesses and connecting them to many of the nation’s top employers and companies.
The next part of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Billion Dollar Roadmap calls for a variety of new investments to generate economic development in the north and to help mitigate Israel’s long-term drought and meet the needs of a growing population. While Jewish National Fund-USA has added 250 reservoirs and many other water saving programs to Israel’s national grid, the organization is now raising revenue to build 90 new reservoirs to offset the costs of desalination while also preserving Israel’s fresh water supply.
In Be’er Sheva, Jewish National Fund-USA plans to open a new 10-acre campus for the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. And, in Mitzpe Ramon, plans are being put into motion to reinvigorate the town with its famous crater by adding a new convention center and local improvements to enhance the look, feel and economy of the region, along with a new innovation center. In the northern area of the Upper Eastern Galilee, Jewish National Fund-USA is building in the Kiryat Shmona area a world-class culinary school and food technology center.
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