Wednesday, September 28, 2016

From New Jersey to starting anew in Israel's desert: 'The Negev is now'

Merchav Am community center

By Allison Levine Speiser

I actually remember the launch of JNF's Blueprint Negev, which happened while I was still living in New Jersey. It sounded like a nice idea, bringing water supply to Israel's Southern desert and creating infrastructure there, but admittedly, the campaign didn’t mean much to me at the time. 

The Negev was really far away from anything I connected with. I knew it was there, but it was never something I or anyone I knew was focusing on. It wasn't a place I had ever even visited, despite my many previous Israel trips over the years. When my family and I made aliyah in 2009 with Nefesh B’Nefesh, a JNF partner, we knew we wanted to be in the center of the country, nearer to job opportunities and friends. It was a logical move. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Rabbi brings potent religious-diversity encounter back to the Arava desert

Representatives of diverse faiths attend the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs' conference.  

By Rabbi Michael Cohen
Founding faculty member, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

On a sunny August desert morning, I found myself invited by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs to talk about the Arava Institute's research in solar energy at a conference of "Ancient Traditions Contemporary Realities: A Meeting of Israel-Asia Faith Leaders" in Jerusalem.

There were leaders from the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Shinto, and Taoist religions, as well as a number of rabbis and Jewish scholars. It was a fascinating three-day encounter between Judaism and religions one does not often find itself in contact, much less dialogue, with. And that was exactly the reason the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened this gathering. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

In the JNF kitchen: Chicken and dried fruit with tanzia


The #RecipeoftheWeek is a fabulous dish for Rosh Hashanah: chicken and dried fruit, that is guaranteed to bring you and your guests a sweet New Year. You can bring this chicken dish and its sides to another level, by serving it with tanzia, a kind of onion jam with dried fruit. A few tablespoons immediately upgrade any dish of rice, meat, or chicken.

Friday, September 9, 2016

In the JNF Kitchen: Fall BBQ braised veal spareribs


As fall rolls around and Rosh Hashanah fast approaches, we found inspiration in a deliciously flavorful recipe from Chef Uri Arnon: Fall BBQ braised veal spareribs, our #RecipeoftheWeek.

Chef Uri Arnon owns the restaurant Arnold's, voted one of Israel's 10 best kosher gourmet restaurants, and dedicates his cooking to shattering the myth of "kosher or delicious."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The story behind the scroll: Treasured Brooklyn Torah makes aliyah

A beloved Torah scroll, with owner David Hamm, gets ready to take flight for Israel. 

This fall, we're taking time to reflect on new beginnings. With the change of season ushering autumn in, we're reminded of the excitement, nerves and possibilities that hinge on the start of a new chapter. We'll be checking in with students beginning new adventures at Alexander Muss High School in Israel, and olim straight off the chartered planes of this summer's Nefesh B'Nefesh group flights. Stay tuned and get ready to be inspired. What #NewBeginnings are you encountering? 

Photo: Vivian Grossman
David Hamm deplanes the big flight, cradling the Torah close. 



This summer, Nefesh B'Nefesh, one of JNF's partners in bringing pioneers to Israel's north and south, pulled off another round of successful group flights bringing new Israelis home. A process that a mere few years ago was taxing and grueling, NBN expertly facilitate with ease and skill. And while the olim on those flights share some similar dreams, each carries a unique personal narrative and family history.

One such story, of former JNF employee Yocheved Kolchin's decision to make aliyah, touched on the feeling of fulfilling a legacy started by those who came before you. Kolchin's grandparents made aliyah after the Holocaust, and she details how her move, though different in its ease of transportation and aided by modern technology, hearkens back to her grandparents' struggle to come home to Israel. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

In the JNF Kitchen: Simple and favorful fresh beet salad



This recipe of the week is a simple but well-seasoned beet salad from the kitchens of Yerucham, an Arava town rich in culinary traditions brought by Jews from Morocco and Yemen. It is a focus of the JNF Blueprint Negev campaign.

It is one of the fabulous recipes from "Flavors & Delights of Yeruham," a cookbook by the women of Yerucham that captures the culinary riches of the town. In addition to recipes, the book focuses on the personal stories of the cooks, and the flavors and atmosphere that surround them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

In the Judaean hills, a JNF Campus Fellow revels in nature and history


JNF's Campus Fellows program immerses carefully selected college students across the country in JNF's work. The fellows then help create a JNF presence on their campuses.


By Keren Radbil, JNF Campus Fellow from UMass Amherst

As a student of natural-resource conservation, sustainability, and farming, I was fortunate to spend the past few weeks interning with the JNF's restored historical Sataf park on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The work I've done was unique and an amazing opportunity to not only be immersed in nature but explore a landscape with significant cultural and historical meaning.