JNF Canada Project Update from Edmonton

By Jay Cairns

(AJNews) – I’d like to start 5783 off by inviting conversations about the importance of supporting the people and land of Israel and how Jewish National Fund Canada can help you make your mark in Israel by dedicating a meaningful project of your choice.

Let’s start with why Israel needs your support – because as strong as Israel is and the incredible strides that she has made in the last 75 years, the reality is that there are vulnerable populations that need our help. Creating a tangible connection between you, your family, a loved one (alive or deceased) and Israel, is a special goal to have and one I encourage everyone to put on their bucket list.

Why? Because giving tzedakah (charity) is an incredibly selfless act, that involves giving your hard-earned money to something that you will not directly benefit from. We are part of an international collective family of Jewish people who, at the end of the day want the same result – to be able to live securely and freely (as a Jewish person), with hopes and dreams of a bright future with those that share the same dream.

JNF Canada works with a variety of organizations throughout Israel, connecting Jewish and non-Jewish Canadians with projects that are meaningful to them and fulfills your philanthropic goals.  From environmental issues such as trees and climate change to social infrastructure projects that help vulnerable populations such as youth and the elderly, JNF provides a wide range of donor-directed giving opportunities that are building Israel’s future in a profound way, providing naming rights that connect you, your family and/or a loved one with Israel in perpetuity.

I am so proud to be a part of the JNF Canada team, it is truly an honour that donors entrust me to see their chosen projects to fruition and this remains my commitment to the supporters of JNF Edmonton.  There are a lot of exciting projects that JNF is building all over Israel and together we can act as the agents for change for the better, in a country and for a people we can all call home and family.

The Jewish people are unique in that we are constantly challenged with our right to exist, no other people need to remind the world of that on a consistent basis.  I want to suggest that we can do that by building Israel’s future through investing in the infrastructure that clearly states that we are here and here to stay. We can forge a future for ourselves, design and determine our own destiny, and that is an extremely positive message that needs space in the world.

JNF Canada is your one-stop shop that offers you an integral/key role in building a vibrant Israel for today and for generations to come.  Please feel free to call or email me to set up a meeting to discuss anything and everything JNF and/or Israel. It would be my honour and pleasure to act as your personal concierge for change.

Pirkei Avot: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (2:21)

JNF Canada recently completed several projects that were funded by Edmonton, I would like to share in the excitement after having recently attended these amazing project dedications on the ground in Israel.

The Max Glassman Mental Health Hospital in Jerusalem:

Theodor Shnitka & Toby Garfin z”l left an extremely generous estate gift in 2014 that funded the second floor of the newly built Glassman mental health hospital in Jerusalem. I am extremely proud to have been a part of this enormous project that is servicing people from every walk of life in Israel who are struggling with mental illness and specifically PTSD. Mental health issues are on the rise everywhere in the world and Israel is taking a leading role in addressing the issues and sharing best practices with countries around the world who are facing similar issues.

Airplane Park in the Galilee:

Freya and Lewis Wasel, 2019 JNF Edmonton honourees wanted to make a difference in the north of Israel by creating green spaces along the Ayun River. Airplane Park spans over 17 acres and converted an abandoned airplane strip into an area that families and tourists could gather for celebrations, go for a dip in the fresh naturally running water or relax in the shade. The park services several communities in the region and has quickly become a favourite stop for many people travelling in the Etz B’hagalil region.  The JNF Edmonton family has already begun party planning for a celebration that is scheduled for the summer of 2023. Stay tuned for more on this good news story!

The Bervin JNF Canada House in Sderot:

The project that 2020 JNF Edmonton Negev Gala honourees Odette & Jacob Masliyah chose suffered unforeseen challenges due to COVID and unfortunately caused a delay, however this multi million-shekel project that has the support from donors across Canada is well underway with a clear path to completion sometime in 2024. The Bervin House is the first of its kind, a completely fortified educational facility in Sderot, an extremely important project that aims to strengthen the periphery and specifically the Gaza envelope. The mayor of Sderot, Mr. Alon Davidi is an outstanding leader and our partnership with the community of Sderot is greatly appreciated. If you are ever in Israel please let me know and we can arrange for a meaningful visit of many projects that JNF Canada has built.

The Gayle Tallman sport & recreation park in the Galilee.

JNF Edmonton honoured my mentor and beloved retired Jewish professional Gayle Tallman in 2021 and I’m very happy to report to all donors that this project was recently completed in a timely fashion during the COVID crisis and continues to be a source of joy for the Kibbutz and surrounding communities.  Jewish Edmonton has developed important relationships through the hard work of the Jewish Federation P2G program, I encourage anyone who is travelling through the North of Israel to visit the communities in and around Kfar Blum.

Hassadna Music Conservatory Scholarships:

Catherine Miller & Len Dolgoy invested in an endowment fund that has created scholarship opportunities for at risk youth all over Israel, who come to Jerusalem to participate and study with cohorts and professional teachers that guide and perform with these students. The program is available to students from all walks of life and has produced some of the finest musicians, moulding and shaping their musicianship from beginner to virtuoso using an integrated performance-based approach that has produced students who have moved on to world class symphonies.

Jerusalem Hills Rehabilitation & Reforestation:

With the support of a number of donors who wish to remain anonymous, JNF Edmonton became a key player in the rehabilitation of the Jerusalem Hills Forest that was badly damaged by a fire that raged through the Judean hills in the spring of 2018. Many of the surrounding communities were threatened by this fire and the remediation and rehabilitation that was required to clear and eventually replant has been extensive. The foresters who are working to protect the homes, hospital, memorial sites and important infrastructure in the area are using new techniques that will ensure that this type of fire cannot cause that kind of damage on a go foreword.

 Other JNF Canada Projects are also underway and we hope to have updates on them soon. 

Jay Cairns is Executive Director of the JNF Edmonton and can be reached at jay.cairns@jnf.ca or at 780-481-7881, jnf.ca. He notes that mission support is also available for anyone travelling to Israel.


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