The Jewish National Fund is a lot cooler than it lets on. Founded in 1901, the non-profit has long been known for its environmental work, gaining a reputation for tree planting and other recycle-friendly initiatives. Those programs are still strong today, but are augmented by a series of preservation strategies that are modern, innovative and ahead of the curve.
“JNF has been doing this for a long time. There’s more awareness now about what we do, but our programs aren’t just something we’re working on because it’s trendy,” said Sarit Schonbrun, JNF director of communications. “Our work touches so many different aspects of life in Israel, whether it’s preserving historical sites, the environment, infrastructure or education programs.”
JNF is able to reach out on such a wide level thanks to help from its 600,000 donors. That support, combined with cutting edge facilities and research staff, allows JNF to not only pinpoint areas of need, but affect change as well.
The Parsons Water Fund is just one example of JNF’s ability to proactively shape the field of conservation. The program was developed to help Israel with its water shortage, by constructing recycled water reservoirs, developing alternative water sources, creating education programs and conducting research. Since its inception, the initiative has increased Israel’s water supply by 12 percent.
Schonbrun said programs like the Parsons Water Fund fit in with the Jewish state’s status as a leader in green-friendly techniques.
“Israel has the highest rate of recycling in the world, and the countries behind it aren’t even close to her level,” she said. “There are a lot of things in the Jewish tradition that talk about protecting the Earth. Tu B’Shevat has taken on a whole new meaning.”
While the organization has stayed true to its roots in its 100-plus years, new generations of JNF supporters mean Israeli conservation is in constant evolution.
“There are a great number of people who are seeing us," Schonbrun said, "and learning we’re more than the JNF they heard about in elementary school or from their grandparents."
.ORG-Connection: JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people. Over the past 109 years, JNF has evolved into a global environmental leader by planting 250 million trees, building over 210 reservoirs and dams, developing over 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 1,000 parks, providing the infrastructure for over 1,000 communities, bringing life to the Negev Desert and educating students around the world about Israel and the environment.