Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: A disabled man's stunning breakthrough

Aleh Negev
Dvir's former home, Aleh Negev, where he found his voice.  
Rehabilitation facility Aleh Negev provides high-level medical and rehabilitative care to severely disabled adults and children, most of whom cannot speak. Dvir, a former resident, suffers from cerebral palsy and severe motor disabilities, and his weak control over the muscles in his mouth made it impossible to understand him when he talked. At Aleh Negev, a volunteer drama teacher worked with Dvir to teach him how to purse his lips and blow, working with candles and teaching him to play the harmonica. These continuous practices resulted in a major improvement in Dvir's ability to speak and communicate with those around him.

As soon as it became easier for people to understand what he was saying, Dvir -- who came to live at Aleh Negev at age 22 -- began to share his thoughts and feelings with the therapy staff. He revealed a rich inner world and an unimagined cognitive level. 

He told the staff that he wanted to move to another home where he could be with friends with others who can speak. He put his thoughts into a letter that he asked his therapist to type for him.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: A new Napa Valley, tucked in the Galilee

gourmet dining in the Galilee
The Western Galilee, located in Israel's north, is becoming a destination for lovers of good food. Really good food.
Sometimes a miracle is about helping people experience the magic that already exists close to home. As part of the Jewish National Fund's Go North program, JNF is giving Israelis a reason to discover their own version of Napa Valley just a short drive from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. 

The Western Galilee, in the northern part of Israel, is nestled between Mount Meron and the Mediterranean Sea. Overflowing with history, culture, natural beauty, and stellar local produce, the region is a source of world-class wines, boutique cheeses, and gorgeous scenery. And it’s an easy day trip from just about anywhere in Israel.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: 'Rescue our residents,' a plea answered

LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible

LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible offers educational outdoor activities throughout the country for children and adults with special needs. During Operation Protective Edge this summer, the organization received numerous calls from directors of special-needs facilities in the south of the country to literally "rescue our residents." 

"We are going crazy in the home," one participant from a Be'er Sheva rehab center for adults with intellectual challenges told LOTEM. "It's impossible to continue this way with all the fears."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: Advanced agricultural know-how farmed to the developing world

AICAT students holding Israeli flag

Along the Jordanian border, in the Central Arava desert, a modern miracle is taking place. With less than one inch of annual rainfall and multiple other challenges, the Arava farmers have been able to make the impossible possible and make the desert bloom. Roughly 550 farming families of the Central Arava produce 60 percent of Israel’s fresh vegetable exports and 10 percent of its cut-flower imports. The region is a world leader in advanced desert agriculture and a prime example of effective water use. 

But the miracle isn't only benefiting Israel; it's also impacting people in developing countries. Twenty years ago the Arava farmers took it upon themselves to share their  knowledge  and experience with the world. This was the beginning of the Arava International Center for Agriculture Training, or AICAT. Today the program has changed the lives of over 8,000 graduates from Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Tibet, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, and South Sudan. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: Instant cheer for beleaguered IDF soldiers

Israeli soldiers thank Muss
Israeli soldiers say thank you to Muss students. 
During Operation Protective Edge this summer, students of Alexander Muss High School in Israel, an international study-abroad program for high schoolersraised almost $2,000 overnight in a charity drive to purchase food and supplies for IDF soldiers serving in Gaza. Help more teens strengthen their Jewish identities at Alexander Muss High School in Israel

More modern miracles #PoweredByJNF

Friday, December 19, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredbyJNF: Suddenly, an escape from the deadly flames

Israel's firefighters, some of the country's unsung heroes, are ranked among the best firefighting and rescue specialists in the world, and considered top experts in responding to acts of terror. But while they face situations specific to war, like in any community -- and particularly a dry, desert climate like that of Israel -- fires are a regular occurrence that need to be handled. Sometimes in moments of great peril battling the flames, firefighters experience something miraculous.

More modern miracles #PoweredByJNF

In July of this year, a number of fires encircled communities in the hills outside Jerusalem, including Ora, Aminadav, and Even Sapir. The Jerusalem Region Fire Brigade, which includes Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh firefighters, went into the fire with four crews, a total of 10 firefighters. They drove into the forest to protect Even Sapir first, in an attempt to stop the flames from engulfing homes. All of a sudden, the wind changed direction and the firefighters found themselves surrounded by flames. The heat trapped the first responders in their trucks. Just as they were about to be overcome by smoke, a path through the fire materialized, and the teams managed to escape their death trap.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: For six families, a life-changing decision

New homes in Negev desert
Slowly but surely, the OR Movement has relocated thousands of families to Israel's Negev desert. 
The OR Movement -- founded in 2002 by a group of young, idealistic Israelis -- aims to populate Israel's Negev desert, which represents 60 percent of Israel's land mass but is home to just 8 percent of the country's population.

More modern miracles #PoweredByJNF

After two months of constant rocket fire and unrest in Israel's southern region this summer, the OR Movement and JNF brought a busload of Israeli families to visit the Negev in hopes of motivating them to relocate to the south and help the desert flourish. Within days of the visit, six families committed to move to a kibbutz near the Gaza border, Nahal Oz, which lost a 4-year-old boy to a mortar hit during Operation Protective Edge and was largely evacuated during the final days of the crisis. When asked about the risk of living in a community that's experienced such duress, one man replied, "We are so proud to be Israeli, so moving here is what we will do." 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Modern miracle #PoweredByJNF: Silenced by fear, a boy speaks again

Green Horizons hike

During the eight days of Hanukkah, which celebrates an ancient miracle, we'll be highlighting some of the many modern-day miracles experienced by Jewish National Fund partners. We start with Green Horizons, known in Hebrew as Hugey Sayarut (hiking groups). The educational organization teaches kids about Israel's history, geography, and culture through outdoor field trips led by professional guides, and sometimes unexpected -- and miraculous -- things happen along the trails. 

Avinoam, a young boy in one of Green Horizons' northern groups, stopped talking during the summer of 2006. A katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon fell next to his house and since then, he had stopped communicating with words. His family did all they could do to help. They took him to doctors and psychologists, but Avinoam couldn't overcome his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What do Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg and singer Matisyahu have in common?

Sheryl Sandberg
Chances are you know Sheryl Sandberg as chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the much-talked-about best-seller "Lean In: Woman, Work, and the Will to Lead." But did you know she attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel

And she's far from the only big-name alum of the JNF-supported international study-abroad program for high schoolers.