Thursday, May 31, 2018

Multicultural agriculture school in Israel plants seeds of hope, diplomacy

The author, Ron, right, with his new friend Mohammad, at AICAT.

By Ron Werner

What would you say if you walked into a classroom in a remotely populated region of southern Israel to find the room filled with students from Africa and Southeast Asia learning and loving Israel? The majority of the students come from countries that don't have diplomatic relations with Israel; so, if you hadn't seen it with your own eyes, you might not have believed it. This is hope, this is the future. This is AICAT: The Arava International Center for Agricultural Training.  

A few weeks ago I visited AICAT, and it was easily one of the most amazing places I have ever seen.

Monday, May 28, 2018

U.S. Navy couple Marchel and Alice Tevelson generous in life, legacy

The Tevelsons, Alice and Marchel

Alice J. Tevelson and Marchel Charles Tevelson of La Mesa, California, shared a great love for each other and the life they created together. 

Married in 1957, Alice gave up her teaching career to become a Navy wife. Charlie, as he was known to his family, was a graduate of Temple University and a decorated commander in the U.S. Navy, serving in World War II and Vietnam. Charlie served in the U.S. maritime and naval forces on active duty and as a civilian for a total of 54 years. In 1972, while on active duty and having completed several decorated combat tours, Charlie became director of the Navy’s worldwide humanitarian mission, Project Handclasp. He held this position as both an active duty commander and civilian director until 2006.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Under the acacia tree: Celebrating a rite of passage in Israel's Arava

Photo: Tamir Eytan
The bat mitzvah girl, Alexia, in the Central Arava.
By Barbara Bader

In 2013, my husband Abe and I were talking about taking our first trip to Israel. He remembered, as a child, collecting donations for Jewish National Fund, using the blue box. I did some research, called our Long Island, N.Y. branch of JNF, and thus began our relationship. During that trip, on the Spirit of Israel Mission in April 2014, we visited the usual amazing places: the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the modern city of Tel Aviv, the beautiful Galilee. As wonderful as this was, nothing pulled at our heartstrings the way our visit to the Arava region did!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Garden of Peace dedicated at LOTEM's Ecological Park

By Lynne Merriam

This past year, we dedicated the Garden of Peace at LOTEM's site in Emek HaShalom, the Valley of Peace. I wanted this Garden to honor my husband, Fred Merriam, who exemplifies being a man of peace. Fred and I have been to Israel many times. Now that we are part of the Jewish National Fund Disabilities Task Force, we have felt an even greater connection to Eretz Yisrael. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mother's Day thoughts from Jewish National Fund leader Nina Paul

Nina's mother, Shirley

By Nina Paul, president, Jewish National Fund Women for Israel  

As Mother's Day approaches, I thought I would share some thoughts about my mother Shirley (z"l) and my daughter Lainey, both of whom are my role models. 

My mother, at the age of 28, (an old maid at that time) ventured out on her own to Los Angeles from New Haven, Conn., by train. Scary as it must have been to travel on her own, she carried on with her dream vacation as her girlfriend decided to stay behind for a man she had recently met. As fate would have it, she met my father, and three months later they were married and she moved to Los Angeles.

Leaving a family far behind and starting her own family was not common in those days. My parents had a wonderful 46-year marriage. Unfortunately, my father Ted (z"l), predeceased my mother by 20 years. During their love affair, they raised a family, and worked side by side in creating a very successful business. They endured many hardships along the way, including raising a child who was brain damaged at birth. My brother Louis is the middle child and I am the "baby." Despite her many challenges, she volunteered at her synagogue and with many Jewish organizations throughout her lifetime.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dispatch from the front lines of the devastating Israel floods

The Arava Search and Rescue Team on the ground.
The Jewish National Fund Arava Task Force spent the past week in Israel, and their time there happened to coincide with the devastating storms in the area. Below Task Force chair Rebecca Fischer shares her impressions of being there during this trying time. To help with rescue efforts sorely needed in the area, please visit here.  

By Rebecca Fischer, Jewish National Fund Arava Task Force chair

I just returned from Israel. This was my 17th trip to Israel and I believe my 10th time in the Arava. This trip was unparalleled. We had an incredible time in the Hevel Eilot Region Sunday through Tuesday and the Central Arava Tuesday through Thursday, where we saw the fruits of our time and money literally rising from the desert.  

We met as a Task Force to review the projects proposed to us by both regions on Wednesday afternoon at Nof Zuqim, and to decide which projects we want to recommend to Jewish National Fund for support. However, we soon found ourselves trapped in the dining hall as a result of the sand and rain storms brewing outside, the likes of which none of us had ever witnessed.