Friday, July 29, 2016

LOTEM's accessible trails let father and son hike together for first time

Editor's note: At the end of this post you'll find details on how to enter a raffle that benefits LOTEM and could win you round-trip tickets to Israel. 

By Mitch Tepper

I was left disabled by a diving accident in 1982 and felt a personal connection to LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible and its work with children and adults with special needs. In the summer of 2009, my son Jeremy celebrated his becoming a bar mitzvah in Israel and raised more than $2,000 for the organization as part of his tzedakah project.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My inspiration for aliyah: A new immigrant reflects on her journey home

The author being greeted by her JNF family. 

By Yocheved T. Kolchin

My great-grandfather, David Asher, was born in Memel, a small German town that because of border changes is now part of Lithuania. He eventually left Germany and went to Scotland and lived there for several years before arriving in the United States. However, many years later, when he was in his late eighties, he made aliyah. 

His wife, my great-grandmother, refused to leave her grown children in New York, so alone, he boarded a boat to Israel. My great-grandfather had a history of heart problems, but when he arrived in Jerusalem he threw away his heart medications, saying, "The air of Jerusalem is all the healing I need." 

He lived in Israel for about a year, at which point he returned to the States to visit his wife. This time she was ready to go with him, and the two booked passage for Israel. The day before their boat set sail, my great-grandfather passed away.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Plane ride to a new life: Emotions soar aboard aliyah flight to Israel

Photo: Shahar Azran
New olim from North America disembark the first Nefesh B'Nefesh chartered flight of the summer last week. 

By Vivian Grossman

Every once in a while you're offered an opportunity you just can't say no to, and for me that happened last week. I was invited to be a guest on a Nefesh B'Nefesh chartered flight taking North American olim, or immigrants, to start their new lives in Israel. Nefesh B'Nefesh, a JNF partner, encourages and facilitates aliyah from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, helping new olim navigate all aspects of the big move. 

I was fortunate to have been among those greeting Nefesh B'Nefesh chartered flights at Ben Gurion Airport twice over the last few years, and the images are still etched in my memory -- a few hundred people arriving after an overnight flight from JFK, laughing, crying, dancing, singing.

Friday, July 22, 2016

In the JNF Kitchen: Osi’s stuffed red peppers

This week, we have an easy dish that can serve either as a main course or a flavorful side: Osi's stuffed red peppers. It's a simple, tasty recipe that makes use of peak-season sweet red bell peppers.

Osi offers her delicious modern cuisine through her catering business Osi's Events in Ofakim, a small Negev town. She buys locally to help support Ofakim’s struggling economy, a focus of JNF's Blueprint Negev initiative.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trees need love too: Single Israeli palm seeks girl seed for hot dates

In what was thought to be a botanically impossible feat, Dr. Elaine Solowey of JNF partner the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) managed to sprout a date palm from a 2,000-year-old seed excavated at Masada. Now she's looking for a female seed to procreate with that miracle male tree, thereby continuing the species. We're so proud of the AIES' work, we thought we'd give this tree with ancient roots a little modern help finding its basheret

Me: Hi, my name is Methuselah. I'm solid, grown from a strong base with dreams of reaching the sky. My birth was a miracle of science, and I owe my life to Dr. Elaine Solowey. I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal. I love hot summer days, cool desert breezes, and history. Especially ancient Judeo-Roman history about Masada.   

Modern-day Methuselah: Meet the Israeli tree sprouted from a 2,000-year-old seed

Elaine Solowey with Methuselah tree
Photo: Anne Taillandier
Dr. Elaine Solowey and her masterpiece, the Methuselah tree. 

Remarkable research and innovation is taking place at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, or AIES, a JNF partner that promotes professional cross-border scientific cooperation in the Middle East. Just one example of an AIES advancement: the date palm that an Arava Institute scientist successfully grew from a seed thousands of years old. Never heard of it? Read on for more on this amazing, one-of-a-kind tree. 

By Megan Turner

Methuselah is considered to have been the oldest living man in the Hebrew bible, reaching the esteemed age of 969. It is only appropriate, then, that a date palm that sprouted from a 2,000-year-old seed at southern Israel's Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) carries the same name.   

Friday, July 15, 2016

In the JNF Kitchen: Refreshing raw chocolate-coconut mousse cake

The recipe of the week, raw chocolate-coconut mousse cake, is a refreshing frozen treat that is as healthy as it is delicious, with a mix of walnuts, almond, cashews, and coconut oil. It's brought to us by Hagit Lidror, one of the people making Western Galilee a foodie and wine-enthusiast paradise. The region is a key development area of JNF's Go North initiative. 

Hagit's creations, healthy and focused on quality ingredients, are representative of Israeli cuisine in its freshness and simplicity. Hagit teaches Cooking Workshops based on healthy vegetarian cuisine at her home facing the magical Clil landscape overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

U.S. professors return from faculty fellowship in Israel inspired, and with new connections

Professor Motter, taking in the Arava Desert. 
It’s not every day an American college professor gets to talk one-on-one with doctors working on a cure for Alzheimer's, discuss video game designs with a Nobel Prize winner in mathematics, or spend time in the room where Jesus is said to have celebrated the Last Supper. 

Those, however, are only a few of the novel takeaways recently experienced by two dozen university academics on Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International's Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel, which links scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major institutions to initiate exchanges and collaborations.     

Twenty-four U.S. professors spent 10 rigorous days traveling through Israel, meeting Israeli professors in their disciplines with the same or similar research interests, all with the goal of developing collaborations on research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs with faculty and students. Speakers enlightened and educated the participants about Israel and its history, the Holocaust, Israeli and Arab women's rights, R&D, and so much more. Participants were exposed to culture, historical sites, the people and the way of life in Israel. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

'Entebbe is a moral imperative': 40 years later, the rescue still informs its heroes' choices

Doron Almog
In 1976, Maj. General (Res.) Doron Almog's IDF
special unit helped rescue hostages in Entebbe.
On the eve of Operation Entebbe's 40th anniversary, we talk to two of the heroes from the raid who today are affiliated with JNF projects.  

By Deborah Danan

Monday marks 40 years since Israel's successful hostage-rescue mission at Entebbe airport in Uganda. But Maj. General (Res.) Doron Almog's memories of Operation Yonatan remain vivid -- from the role a piece of chewing gum played in the bold undertaking to the pain of witnessing his friend Yoni Netanyahu, the hero after whom the operation is named, die. 

Almog recalls sitting on the plane en route from Ben Gurion Airport to save the hostages alongside his subordinates; the IDF special unit forces he was commander of; and a Mercedes limousine that had been sprayed black to look like the one former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, traveled in. 

The plan was to fake the volatile Ugandan despot's return to Entebbe from a diplomatic trip in order to infiltrate the terminals and free the 106 people being held there. But there was one problem: The airborne limo was leaking gas.