As part of the Beyond the Blue Box series, Jewish National Fund’s Atlanta Women for Israel presented an evening Jan. 16 at City Springs, “Start Up Nation: From Desert to Oasis.”
Event co-chair Caryn Berzack welcomed the group and explained that the importance of water and recycling in Israel cannot be overestimated.
Guest speaker Talia Tzour Avner, Jewish National Fund’s chief Israel emissary, explained JNF’s role in greening the desert and supporting cutting-edge water technology. Pride permeated the room as she reinforced how Israel’s scientific brilliance helps the world.
She shared statistics that lent perspective to why water is a global issue: In the 20th century, the world’s population tripled as our water usage increased six-fold, she said. “Israel’s solution is to be self-sufficient. While they recycle 85 percent of the country’s water, the closest country is Spain at 17 percent and the U.S. at 5 percent. Israel is doing miracles getting the salt out of the water and working on making water from air.”
She explained that desalination happens 24/7 and the process only takes 30 minutes. JNF has supplied reservoirs for storage and has plans for 18 more since Israel’s population for 2050 is expected to be 16 million versus the present 9 million. She noted that Israel has no natural forests, saying, “All has been planted by JNF, 5 percent of the land with 250 million trees.”
She emphasized the importance of education. “Today in Israel, little children know to quickly turn off the faucet.”
Tzour Avner laid out JNF’s meaningful game plan to even out the concentrated population. “Eighty percent of Israelis live in a small triangle that connects Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. Real estate there is more like New York. We are striving to redistribute 500,000 to the Negev and another 300,000 to the North. We need to spread out and develop the periphery. To do that, JNF is behind making these areas habitable and stable with medical facilities and even man-made lakes.
Also very special is transforming the North into a “food basket” with R&D and a state-of-the-art culinary institute, Galilee Institute of Culinary Arts in Kiryat Shmona.
She also showed the map of the Arava region, from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, Israel’s long border with Jordan. “It’s 22 percent of Israel’s land, but only 9,000 people. We have to protect that border; and it doesn’t even have one seat in the Knesset. That takes 36,000!”
Earlier in the evening, Stacy Lewin, a member of the JNF National Water Task Force, Cheryl Cohen Miller and Mindy Miller received pins. They were recognized as powerful, like-minded women who exemplify education and their connection to Israel.
Lynn Oves and Marsha Spector honored the new members of the Sapphire Level ($5,000) and Chai ($1,800 donation) members, who exemplify the power of women in education and the connection to Israel.
Roni Wolk, an Atlantan on the national JNF executive board, explained how JNF involvement can be approached from different angles depending on individual passions. “With JNF, no one is left behind. Find things that match your values. My husband and I got hooked on the area of special needs, Disability Task Force. When the sparks strike you, you will know it.”
Beth Gluck, JNF Southeast executive director, concluded, “Thanks to all who showed up to support JNF with time and funds, and spreading the word by speaking to others.”
Upcoming JNF events include: JNF Women for Israel National Call, Jan. 29 at noon. Conversation with Dr. Rachel Fish, “Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century.” To attend, RSVP to Beth Gluck, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 6th annual JNF Women Noshin Hamentaschen will be Feb. 23 at various homes around Atlanta.
The Women for Israel Independence Day luncheon April 29 will feature Ethan Zohn, and the JNF national conference in Israel is Oct 25-29.
Feb. 10 is Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees, and, as such, JNF received a commendation from Gov. Brian Kemp and the state of Georgia to designate the holiday “JNF Day” in an effort to increase awareness of its afforestation efforts in Israel.