Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Harvesting love with a wheelchair-accessible winepress

Photo: LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible 
With Sukkot just a couple of days away, we share a glimpse into a special type of harvest in Israel. During the summer grape-gathering season there, being in a wheelchair is no obstacle to getting in on the fun of pressing grapes. That's thanks to a custom-built accessible winepress at Jewish National Fund partner site LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible, which offers educational outdoor activities for children and adults with special needs in Emek HaShalom, the Valley of Peace.

The press is wide enough for wheelchairs to enter, and ropes hang from the roof for those who may not need a wheelchair, but require extra support standing. Participants press the grapes with their bare feet or wheelchair wheels and the juice slides into a pit. It is then collected in a large bowl, boiled, and enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One answer to crowding in central Israel: Go North!

Photo: Anne Taillandier 
The historically rich northern city of Akko is looking to attract more tourists to its turrets and tunnels. 

By Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod

Israel's center is "imploding" from crowding and high living costs, according to Jewish National Fund Chief Development Officer Rick Krosnick. But tourism to the north will help take the pressure off by spurring economic development and encouraging population growth in another region. 

While close to 80 percent of Israel's land area is located outside the center of the country, tourists typically spend only a few hours, at most, exploring beaches, museums, and historical and natural sites beyond Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Krosnick said recently at the Go North Western Galilee Tourism Conference in the northern coastal city of Akko. The conference was co-sponsored by JNF and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

The challenge doesn't just lie in bringing visitors to the region, but in convincing them to stay longer to enjoy the area's rich historical sites, boutique artists, expert travel guides, and farm-to-table restaurants. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Calling all JNF social-media superstars!

This Israeli firefighter just got a much-needed new tool belt. Hopefully he can pry it away from his daughter. #LoveGrowsInIsrael #JNF 
You just read about a JNF-sponsored field trip for Israeli children touched by war, and you want to share the story on Facebook. Or you're in Israel on a JNF mission and visited a site you think the world should know about. What's the best way to share JNF experiences and impressions on your social-media platform of choice? Here are a few tips to keep in mind, JNF social-media superstars.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

After days of war, giving kids a chance to be kids

Israeli kids enjoy a much-needed yom kef, or fun day, sponsored by the Jewish National Fund. 
More than 2,000 Israeli kids enjoyed a much-needed reprieve from months of fear and tension recently when the Jewish National Fund took them on a field trip to the biblical gardens of Neot Kedumim, halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In Israel, such a day is called a yom kef, or a fun day. The field trip included 
1,500 elementary school students from Sderot, a city of 24,000 located less than a mile from the Gaza border. For them, the day offered dramatic relief from the tension they live with every day.

The fun day for the children from Sderot came together in just 72 hours. Driven by their desire to do something special for the children of Sderot, staff from JNF, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), and Neot Kedumim, as well as administrators from every elementary school in Sderot, worked around the clock to coordinate the complex logistics of the day.

"Today was a day of relief for the children of Sderot," said 
Alon Badihi, executive director of JNF Israel. "We want them to know that we love them. We want to thank them for being there for the Jewish people. We want to send them the message of how important it is for Jewish children all over Israel to keep living their lives and to remember how to have fun."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fear not, the younger generation gets it

Photo: Alicia Yaffe
JNF Social Media Executive Committee member Anne Taillandier samples the crop at Earth's Promise, a cooperative community garden farmed mostly by new immigrants from Ethiopia. 
By Vivian Grossman

I've often wondered whether generations to come will continue to fan the flame of Zionism. Will they understand the importance of how and why a strong Israel is critical to the quality of their lives in America? I've wondered how, with Holocaust survivors leaving us daily, the next generation will connect the dots and understand how Jews have survived for centuries despite countless attempts to rid us from the earth.
After recently returning from another amazing trip to Israel, I fear not. I spent a week with a group of rock-star social-media professionals from around the country who represent the leaders of tomorrow. They gave up their very valuable time to travel to Israel with the JNF and keep the message going. They're delightful, bright, funny, and serious, and they get that Zionism has a capital Z and is something to embrace. It's a word to be held in the highest esteem, not one to be disgraced.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Solidarity Mission shares impressions on i24news

Our L'Chaim Solidarity Mission has returned from an awesome week of helping out on the ground. Listen and see what they have to say. And read a compilation of emails written by mission co-chair Vivian Grossman.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where victims of terror remember victims of terror

By Gary Hill

Ever hear the expression "You can’t get there from here?" Due to construction of a new high-speed rail line from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, it is almost a true statement as you try to find the Living Memorial dedicated to the victims of 9/11. That's correct, a memorial in Israel for victims of terrorism who died in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. But once you find the memorial you understand why it is in Israel and how important it is to visit.

Israel has lost nearly 3,000 civilians to acts of terrorism -- each of their names is inscribed at the Victims of Terror Memorial on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. The United States lost nearly 3,000 victims to acts of terrorism on September 11, 2001, and each of their names is inscribed at the 9/11 Living Memorial in Jerusalem's Azazim Valley, in the Ramot neighborhood. Only one place outside of the United States lists the names of all the victims of 9/11 -- the 9/11 Living Memorial in Israel. The the 9/11 victims were of all religions and ethnic groups and came from more than 50 nations, including five from Israel.

A project of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Keren Kayemeth Lelsrael (KKL), the memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2013. The center of the memorial is a 30-foot bronze sculpture of an American flag curled in the shape of a memorial flame. Under the flame and encased in the base of the memorial is a beam from the remains of the World Trade Center. Some of the granite base came from the Twin Towers and was donated by the city of New York. The Living Memorial Plaza sits on 5 acres and includes a curved Wall of Remembrance on which plaques with the names of 2,974 people killed on September 11, 2001 are listed.