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May 31, 2016 / 23 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish National Fund’

Beit Shemesh Forest Fire ‘Worst Since Carmel’

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Hundreds of firefighters battled a forest fire that tore through the Beit Shemesh area on Friday, destroying nearly 2,000 dunam of woodland.

The blaze has been dubbed “the worst fire since the Carmel disaster” – one that could take the land up to 20 years to recover.

It is not yet clear what started the fire, although officials believe it may have been connected to an authorized fire in a nearby moshav. The extreme heat and dry conditions of the past week, plus a breeze, could have carried a spark from that fire into the nearby forest and up the hills, spreading the blaze, a Jewish National Fund (JNF) official said.

Firefighters from Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh spent the entire day on Friday working to bring the blaze under control. Natural forest and woodland, vegetation and uncultivated land all was leveled to ash.

“Seventy fire trucks with the help of other authorities, among them the police who worked to evacuate communities and civilians,” were involved in the effort, said Kobi Tobol, commander of the Beit Shemesh-Jerusalem District Fire Department.

“Everyone worked throughout the entire day and managed to stop the fire from reaching residential areas. Despite that, in such a big fire, the damage to nature and to the animals is massive and will require many years of rehabilitation.”

Gilad Mastai, Jewish National Fund head of the coastal area and Shfela Plains, explained the forest, planted in the 1950s and 1960s, was relatively old. “Beyond that, resting stops and trails were also damaged,” he told the Hebrew-language Ynet website. “This fire burned grown and large trees in addition to the destruction of the undergrowth of thicket growing under the pine trees.

“There are jackals, snakes and tortoises in the area that were burned and trapped in the fire. This is dozens of years of damage. A unique vacation spot was taken from the people of Israel,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mastai suggested that people return to the forest in the coming year anyway, to “see how it rehabilitates itself.”

Hana Levi Julian

African-American Converts Make Aliyah to Israel

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

“We will be a part of something so big—it is unthinkable to me,” Tracie Beavers said three-quarters of the way through a nearly 12-hour flight last week.

The Columbus, Ohio, mother of three was on her way to Israel, making aliyah with the support of the Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) agency.

Tracie’s journey is an unlikely one that began about a decade ago, peaking in 2013 and triumphing when she boarded the plane to Israel. Tracie and her husband Aaron are both African-American converts to Judaism. Their long-winding path to the Jewish homeland began a generation ago with Aaron Beavers’ father, who “changed his lifestyle” when he discovered Torah, said Tracie.

Aaron’s father infused in him a love of yiddishkeit, though he never converted his wife or children. Aaron Beavers was raised Christian, but nearly two decades later, he came to the same conclusion as his father—that Torah is truth.

In 2009, Aaron and Tracie decided they wanted to be Jewish. In 2013, they completed their conversion. They pro-ceeded converted their oldest children—Anayah, 8, and Gabrielle, 6. Chanan, 2, was born into the Jewish faith.

About a year ago, the family decided the next step was moving to Israel.

“If you believe something, you should do it as much as you possibly can. You should be as close to it as you can,” Aaron Beavers told JNS.org.

The family has moved to Bat Hefer, a community in the Sharon plain, east of the central Israeli city of Netanya. Aaron said he plans to be a plumber. Tracie will continue to stay at home with the children. A former member of the U.S. National Guard, she said she now hopes to volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces.

The members of the Beavers family were just a handful of the 221 diverse faces—all newly minted immigrants in the Jewish state—aboard the NBN charter flight on the El Al airline that took off from New York City’s John F. Ken-nedy International Airport on July 12. It was the 53rd charter flight in NBN’s history. Other organizational partners behind the flight included Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA.

NBN’s co-founder, Rabbi Joshua Fass, told the group prior to takeoff, “Returning to Zion is like dreaming. … It is a diverse group of Jews coming together for a common dream.” The other co-founder, Tony Gelbart, said each aliyah flight is as exciting as the next.

“For these olim (immigrants to Israel), it is their first time,” he said.

Aboard the plane were a four-month-old baby and a 90-year-old bubbie, as well as two sets of three-generation families. In total, there were 32 families and 95 children. NBN has helped more than 45,000 olim get to Israel since its founding in 2001.

The 90-year-old bubbie was Sue Friedman, grandmother of Rachel Azaria, a member of the Israeli Knesset for the Kulanu party. Friedman said she has wanted to move to Israel since she left Germany at the age of 13, years before the Nazis annihilated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. She spent many years raising a family in Riverdale, N.Y., but infused in all of her children a love of the Jewish state. She is being embraced in Israel by 27 great-grandchildren.

“I am ready,” she told JNS.org. Friedman is now residing in an independent living facility in Ra’anana.

While there were mixed emotions in the air as families boarded the flight in New York, leaving loved ones behind in America and feeling unsure of what exactly the future holds in Israel, there was nothing but joy upon landing.

JNS News Service

JNF Plans to Build 3,000 Homes on Land It Owns in Tel Aviv Area

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) plans to build up to 3,000 residential units on land it owns in the greater Tel Aviv area.

TheJewishPress.com reported here last week that the JNF owns land worth approximately $1.75 billion.

It plans to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the new project following an approval of the new policy last month.

No timetable has been announced, Globes reported, but building on its own land will save the cost and bureaucracy of having to deal with Israel Land Authority tenders.

However, it will have to apply for building permits on land where there are no existing apartments or which needs to be re-zoned, meaning it could be years before final approval is received.

The bureaucratic procedures may be shorter than usual because the plan has been coordinated with the government, which has promised that it will ease the housing shortage in the metropolitan Tel Aviv region.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Charter ‘Aliyah’ Flight to Land in Israel Tuesday with 221 New ‘Olim’

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Minister Ze’ev Elkin will welcome 221 new immigrants from the United States and Canada at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday., one year after Operation Protective Edge.

The flight, organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency and JNF-USA, will carry 32 families and 53 singles from 14 states, the District of Columbia and four Canadian provinces.

Among the Olim are 95 children – 49 girls and 46 boys – who are immigrating with their parents. About one-fourth of the Olim arriving on the flight have decided to settle in Israel’s periphery as part of the “Go North and Go South” programs.

During 2015, more than 4,000 new immigrants are expected to make Aliyah from North America, and half of them will arrive ii the summer.

Jewish Press News Briefs

JNF Owns Land Worth $1.75 Billion

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The value of the Jewish National Fund’s land in 2013 was $1.75 billion (6.7 billion shekels), Globes reported Wednesday.

Known in Hebrew as Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, JNF’s total assets are $3.25 billion, including the land, whose value in 2014 grew by another $350 million. The JNF sold land for $600 million in 2014 and collected another $21 million in donations.

The report also reveals that JNF has a staff of 950 employees, whose collective salaries are $81 million, almost half of $170 million it spent on land development and forestry.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Large Forest Fire Near Tzur Hadassah

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Six firefighter crews have been sent in to fight a forest fire in the Begin Forest near the town of Tzur Hadassah, just outside of Jerusalem.

A high-voltage power line that crossed over the forest fell down, igniting the blaze in a difficult to reach area.

Six fire fighter crews from Beit Shemesh, 2 firefighting airplanes, and firefighters from the JNF and the Electric Company are battling the fire.

Due to the location the fire is proving difficult to fight, but nearby residents are not in danger.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Helsinki Environmental ‘World Village’ Bans Jewish National Fund

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

The Finnish “World Village festival emphasizing the environment has banned the participation of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the largest environmental organization in Israel. The Finnish government feigned it was powerless to interfere in the boycott and told the Israeli Ambassador to Helsinki that it has no say in the matter because the “Maailma Kylässä” festival is a “private event.”

Dan Ashbel, the Israeli ambassador to Finland, said:

I wonder how this scandalous decision is consistent with values such as eco-friendliness, fairness, tolerance, and the desire for peace. I wonder if the rest of the organizations in the festival are required to stand up to the same criteria.”

However, the Finnish government’s security forces were able to convince the World Village to ban the Freedom of Speech village, warning that an exhibition supporting the freedom of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine to publish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed might cause violence.

The JNF has planted 240 million trees since 1901, and Israel is one of only two countries in the world that registered a net increase in the number of trees at the beginning of the 21st century.

It can be assumed that the organizers do the World Village were celebrating Boycott Israel when deciding to ban the JNF, which also has donated 3,000 trees to the Palestinian Authority for its new city of Rawabi north of Ramallah.

The World Village organizers figure that the environment is better off without a pro-environment organization, which is Jewish, and without a free speech environment that might upset Muslims.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/helsinki-environmental-world-village-bans-jewish-national-fund/2015/05/31/

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