Tuesday, August 13, 2019

American eats meet Israel as L.A. transplant brings food trucks to Golan

Shimon Shain, holding one of the food items from his food truck, Shimmy's.

By Alan Rosenbaum

"We’ve basically made a mini-restaurant on wheels," said Shimon Shain. "Even the health inspector was impressed with the design of the food truck." Be it sushi, tuna melts, a classic falafel sandwich, fish and chips, fries, waffles, hearty pancakes, a refreshing ice coffee, or just plain toast, Shain and his small fleet of food trucks around Israel's Golan Heights serve anything and everything to tourists, workers, and students. But don’t expect the menus to stay the same for long; they vary as clients' demands change.

Brooklyn-born and raised, Shimon, 34, and his wife, Sara, moved from the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles in July 2016 to the calm and tranquility of Hispin, a scenic town of 1,400 residents in the heart of the Golan Heights. "We like the cattle and the agriculture. We preferred to live in the north or the south -- in a quiet area," Shain said.

The Shains felt like there was still something missing from the Golan scene. Shain, who studied at the Jerusalem School of Culinary Arts, used his expertise in gastronomic studies and his extensive experience in the food industry to establish Shimmy’s, a mobile food service -- known as the beloved food truck in the U.S. -- that prepares and sells food throughout the Golan region.

Grainy photo at Jerusalem historic site stirs tears: 'This is who we are'

Ammunition Hill: 1 of more than 150 heritage sites around Israel open to visitors.

By Doran Miller

My personal connection to Israel runs deep. My mom and grandmother are Israeli. My grandfather was born in Germany and fled to British Mandate Palestine in the early 1930s to escape the rising Nazi regime. My entire life, I've been steeped in the stories, music, and culture of Israel. I'd been to Israel before, of course, and I consider myself very familiar with Jewish National Fund’s work, so I thought I knew what to expect from this summer's Jewish Leadership Institute Mission: an action-packed week traveling around the country to see JNF affiliates and projects firsthand. The truth is I had no idea how powerful the experience would be.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Brewer from Kansas crafts creative beers in the heart of Tel Aviv

Jason Barnett, an oleh from Shawnee, Kansas, took his beer brewing hobby and, with assistance from Jewish National Fund partner Nefesh B'Nefesh, started a successful craft beer brewery, Opus Brewing, in the heart of Tel Aviv. Here's his story.

What made you decide to make aliyah? 
I studied abroad in Israel my freshman year, just as the second Lebanon War broke out. The experience reminded me that the world can be a dangerous place for the Jewish people. I made aliyah in August 2010 and that October I entered the IDF's 101st Airborne Brigade.

How did you get started in the beer brewing business?
I loved sitting with friends at bars but didn't love needing to pay for the simple privilege of enjoying a beer with friends. I decided to make my own beer and began whipping up my first batch of amber ale. Truth -- it was terrible. After four years of amateur brewing, I got a job working as a brewer's apprentice at the Dancing Camel in Tel Aviv and began teaching brewing workshops. Nefesh B’Nefesh invited me to conduct my first workshop at their Tel Aviv Hub, and in January 2018, Opus Brewing was born.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Saving lives in Israel's Negev desert: U.S. doctor settles in to new life

Dr. Michael Star, a neurologist in the Negev desert.
By Megan E. Turner

As one of only two stroke specialists in the entirety of Israel’s Negev Desert, this Indianapolis-born neurologist is a coveted gem. With that status, the glaring question is: why did Dr. Michael Star, 34, and his young family make aliyah and decide to live in Yerucham, a once dusty development town that is now experiencing a revival and building boom thanks to Jewish National Fund?

"We knew we didn’t want to live in the center of Israel," said Star of his and his wife's choice to make their home in the south in 2016. "We started out in Be'er Sheva, but we didn’t find a community that fit us," he said. "I was happy with my job at Soroka Hospital, so, we decided to start looking for communities around Be’er Sheva, and that's how we found Yerucham."

Monday, July 29, 2019

These moments touched me most deeply on JNFuture mission to Israel

The author (top row, in blue shirt, third from left) and other volunteers on the JNFuture Leadership Institute Mission.

By Matt Franzblau

To say my JNFuture Leadership Institute Mission trip this summer was impactful and meaningful would be an understatement. Through a jammed-packed five-day tour filled with meetings, greetings, activities, and introductions, our group, comprised of nearly two dozen young professionals, got a true bird's eye view of Jewish National Fund's operations on the ground in Israel.

From the very first day when we stepped foot onto Ammunition Hill, where JNF's support helped revitalize an important memorial site, to our final meal with Halutza community representative Yedidya Harush, who is now thriving in his new home after having to leave his old one in Gush Katif on the Gaza Strip, our group became more knowledgeable and passionate about the organization we were in Israel to represent. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Zionist spirit of Halutza pioneers is highlight of JNFuture Israel trip

 Photo: Joshua Robbin Marks
The new JNF-Halutza Medical Center serving the residents of Shlomit.

By Joshua Robbin Marks

The highlight of the action-packed JNFuture Ultimate Israel Experience tour this May was visiting the amazing communities of Halutza in the northwestern Negev. 

Seeing these modern-day Zionist pioneers flourishing right next to Gaza and Egypt was proof of the success of Jewish National Fund's Blueprint Negev initiative to improve the quality of life in southern Israel and attract new residents to the region.

The communities of Shlomit, Bnei Netzarim and Naveh were built for the Gush Katif residents evacuated from Gaza during the 2005 disengagement. These communities are rapidly developing to accommodate more families. We saw new homes, a synagogue, a community center under construction, greenhouses, crop fields, and solar farms. We also went on a tour of a new medical facility and took advantage of new trees recently planted to provide shade from the intense desert heat. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From a Kenyan village to Israel and back: One woman's big science plans

The author and Kenneth Kiplang'at Chepkwony leader/mentor for AICAT Kenyan students. 

In Israel's south, at AICAT: The Arava International Center for Agricultural Training, students from around the world learn advanced agricultural practices they then take back to their home countries. Here's one student's inspiring story.

By Irene Chemtai Phungoh

My story starts in a pastoralist community in Kenya's arid West Pokot County where food, water, and energy insecurity have prevailed for a long time.
Sometime in the year 2006, the primary school I attended benefited from a water project courtesy of UNICEF and Danish pump manufacturer Grundfos. A solar-powered borehole drilled at the school brought relief to my school and the entire village.
Nearby sat a water collection tank, which would then become the heart of the school. At this point, we became partially relieved of the routine daily six-mile "water-searching missions."

One day on a hot weekend afternoon, as I washed clothes at the school tank, I was startled by the sight of large amounts of water falling from above. To some people, this would be just a tank’s overflow, but I was definitely challenged to do something about the excess precious liquid that was simply wasting away.