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Jewish National Fund


Abstract

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the land of Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Environmental concerns are explicitly addressed through at least four of JNF’s seven Action Areas, which include Forestry and Ecology, Water, Community Development, Security, Education, Research and Development, and Tourism and Recreation.

JNF has planted more than 240 million trees in Israel over the last century, making Israel the only country with more trees at the end of the century than it had in the beginning. JNF has recently adopted a new policy of species diversification, based on growing awareness of the importance of biological diversity as well as a desire to cultivate tree species native to biblical Israel. By purchasing trees through JNF’s online tree planting center, Jews from around the world can help green the land of Israel.

JNF promotes the celebration of Tu B’Shevat (the Jewish New Year of the Trees and the original Arbor Day) as a way of expressing a Jewish commitment to the earth through plantings, Seders, and ecological restoration projects. Through its Tu B’Shevat Across America program, JNF supplies participating congregations in the United States with Tu B’Shevat Haggadot for use at home, Tu B’Shevat sermons, speakers, and other educational resources for celebrating the holiday. JNF's Tu B’Shevat Across America is an annual event in synagogues, as is Tu B’Shevat in the schools. In 2003, JNF published a Tu B’Shevat Book of Sermons, a collection of sermons from well-known rabbis around the world.

JNF works on other ecological issues in addition to its forestry efforts. Over the past decade, JNF has built more than 160 reservoirs and dams, dramatically increased Israel's water resources by providing drinking water to 1.2 million Israelis. JNF's water management projects include water conservation, river rehabilitation, and recyclying.

JNF builds the infrastructure necessary to create and support communities throughout Israel with a major focus on developing Israels northern and southern regions. As Israel's population expands, these newly developed towns offer opportunities for Israeli families. Since its founding, JNF has created more than 400 parks in Israel and has educated countless Jewish students worldwide about Israel and the environment. To address the problem of habitat fragmentation, JNF launched a conservation initiative with Israel's Nature Reserves Authority in 1995. The initiative aims to protect Israel's biological diversity through the establishment of an open-space management plan.

For more than a century, JNF has fulfilled its mandate to provide Zionist education to Jewish children around the world, introducing them to the natural wonders of their homeland and the importance of protecting the environment. JNF-sponsored scholarships and programs at the university level, such as Caravan for Democracy, ensure the commitment to enhancing the land and preserving its resources is transmitted from generation to generation.

JNF has built more than 450 parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas for enjoyment by Israeli families and tourists alike, as well as walking trails, archeological restorations and facilities for the physically challenged. JNF also builds soldier/family picnic sites, where the heroic men and women of the Israel Defense Force can share precious time with their loved ones. JNF-sponsored trips allow thousands of visitors to experience first-hand the wonders of Israel and support its economy.

 

OLD INFO

including soil quality, fire prevention, water conservation, recycling, and riverbed restoration. Since its founding, it has created more than 400 parks in Israel and has educated countless Jewish students worldwide about Israel and the environment. To address the problem of habitat fragmentation, JNF launched a conservation initiative with Israel’s Nature Reserves Authority in 1995. The initiative aims to protect Israel’s biological diversity through the establishment of an open-space management plan.

Religion

Judaism

Geographic Location

Israel

Duration of Project

1901–Present

History

Founded in 1901at the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, at the urging of Theodor Herzl, to secure land for a Jewish state. The Jewish National Fund has continued its mission to preserve and protect the land of Israel since it obtained statehood in 1948. Its initial aim was to purchase land in Palestine in trust for the Jewish people.

Collection boxes were placed in every Jewish home so that contributions could be made to JNF at every opportunity. In the period between the two World Wars, about one million Blue Boxes could be found in Jewish homes throughout the world. JNF obtained its first parcel of land in 1903 and coninued to acquire property at a rapid rate. By 1905, JNF's land holdings had expanded to include land near the Sea of Galilee and at Ben Shemen in the center of the country. By 1921, it had 25,000 acres. During its first decade, JNF initiated a number of projects that have remained central to its mission over the course of the century. These include: land acquisition, afforestation, establishing communities, and crop diversification efforts.

In this first decade of its existence, JNF played a central role in establishing Tel Aviv, Israel's first modern Jewish city, acquiring land for the first collective community (kibbutzim) and first worker's community, and constructing the Yemenite neighborhoods. JNF also set up and administered farms, continued its afforestation programs, which laid the foundation for JNF to become the leading environmental agency in Israel, and was instrumental in founding secondary schools and pioneering higher education an impressive record of achievement in a country whose Jewish population at the time numbered only 85,000. During the early 1900s, JNF also set up an experimental agricultural station at Ben Shemen under the direction of Wilkansky, whose work in mixed farming, or crop diversification, remains the basis of most Israeli agriculture to this day.

JNF was incorporated in teh United States in 1926. By 1935, the Fund held 89,500 acres of land and had planted 1.7 million trees over 1,750 acres. During and after World War II and the subsequent founding of the Jewish State, JNF continued its efforts with a new emphasis on land preservation and ecological restoration. Forest were planted in the Upper Galilee and the southern frontier region of the Negev border in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1930s and again in the 1960s, JNF helped with soil desalinization at Kibbutz Beit HaAvara, located at the northern tip of the Dead Sea. By the end of the 1970s, JNF had planted 1000 million trees in Israel, opened its forests to the public, and created a number of outdoor parks.

Throughout the 1980s, JNF continued to establish parks, picnic areas, and forests; expanded its afforestation efforts; initiated desalinization efforts in the Jezreel Valley; and started to address the increasingly acute water crisis through various water conservation and containment projects. In the 1990s, JNF launched the largest environmental project in the Middle East, the Hula Valley Redevelopment Project, to prevent pollution of the Sea of Galilee and revive depleted agricultural lands. More than 160 reservoirs were built to recycle wastewater and catch the winter rains, increasing Israel's water supply by more than seven percent. JNF's research on desert agricultural techniques, harvesting, and the usese of recycled water have helped save Israel's crops. The recycled water JNF also began to work on rehabilitating rivers and streams during this time, winning an internationl award for its rehabilitation of the Alexander River.

 

OLD MATERIAL

JNF obtained its first parcel of land in 1903 and continued to acquire property at a rapid rate. By 1921, it had 25,000 acres. During its first decade, JNF initiated a number of projects that have remained central to its mission over the course of the century. These include: land acquisition, afforesation, establishing collective communities (kibbutzim), and crop diversification efforts. JNF was incorporated in the United States in 1926. By 1935, the Fund held 89,500 acres of land and had planted 1.7 million trees over 1,750 acres. During and after World War II and the subsequent founding of the Jewish State, JNF continued its efforts with a new emphasis on land preservation and ecological restoration. Forests were planted in the Upper Galilee and the southern frontier region of the Negev border in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1930s and again in the 1960s, JNF helped with soil desalinization at Kibbutz Beit HaAvara, located at the northern tip of the Dead Sea. By the end of the 1970s, JNF had planted 100 million trees in Israel, opened its forests to the public, and created a number of outdoor parks. Throughout the 1980s, JNF continued to establish parks, picnic areas, and forests; expanded its afforestation efforts; initiated desalinization efforts in the Jezreel Valley; and started to address the increasingly acute water crisis through various water conservation and containment projects. In the 1990s, JNF launched the largest environmental project in the Middle East, the Hula Valley Redevelopment Project, to prevent pollution of the Sea of Galilee and revive depleted agricultural lands. JNF also began to work on rehabilitating rivers and streams during this time. JNF’s Tu B’Shevat Across America is an annual event in synagogues, as is Tu B’Shevat in the Schools. In 2003, JNF published a Tu B’Shevat Book of Sermons, a collection of sermons from well-known rabbis around the world.

Mission Statement

The Jewish National Fund is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners: Jewish people everywhere.

Partner Organizations

Arava Institute
United States Forest Service
International Arid Lands Consortium
United Nations
Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Long-Term Goals

JNFs long-term goals include:

  1. Improving the quality of life for the land and people of Israel by working toward the development and settlement of the Negev
  2. Continuing to increase Israel's water supply
  3. Continuing to build reservoirs
  4. Cleaning up Israel's rivers
  5. Educating the public about the land of Israel.

Bibliography

Blue Boxes Designed for 100 Years of KKL-JNF (2002)

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Additional Research Resources

Middle East Regional Cooperative
Volcani Center
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
International Arid Lands Consortium
United States Forest Service

Contact Information

JNF National Headquarters
42 East 69th Street
New York, NY 10021
Ph:       888.JNF.0099
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)