Over 100 Jewish National Fund-USA volunteers supported rebuilding efforts in Israel’s devastated south over the weekend. Their efforts mark the initial phase of the organization’s Build Together strategy that focuses on beautifying and securing Israel envelope communities as residents prepare to return to their homes.
The participants traveled to the Sha’ar HaNegev region along the Gaza border to help revive a local Kibbutz’s community garden and surrounding infrastructure.
Due to the ongoing security situation, only military personnel reside on the Kibbutz, meaning many amenities, such as its community garden, have been left untended.
Since December, Jewish National Fund-USA has organized multiple volunteer missions to Israel, with upcoming trips planned through August 2024.
Over the weekend, volunteers helped pick up trash, paint tables and swings, revitalize the Kibbutz’s petting zoo, plant flowers and trees, and beautify a storage facility.
Jewish National Fund-USA President of Small Communities, Ann Zinman, who participated in the volunteer mission, said, “I came on this trip to help wherever I could. I have supported local farmers by picking oranges, and today, I’m part of rebuilding Kibbutz Erez for the residents who are currently evacuated. I’d love for everyone, especially women, to come here and join what I’m doing. The people in this region need you here. So, pack your bags and sign up now!”
Speaking to the volunteers at Kibbutz Erez, Jewish National Fund-USA Project Manager in Israel, Yoel Rosby, said, “All of you have made the decision to come here today; not to take pictures and ‘gawk’ at the devastation but rather, to roll up your sleeves and help repair these shattered communities. These trips are called ‘volunteer’ rather than ‘solidarity’ missions because we are here to make a difference and prepare these homes for the return of their residents.”
Speaking from Kibbutz Erez, Jewish National Fund-USA Chief of Staff, Deena Shiff added, “We have brought hundreds of volunteers to Israel since December. Today, we are rebuilding a park, playground, and petting zoo, so when the residents of Kibbutz Erez come back, they have something bright and beautiful waiting for them. We can’t wait to welcome them back and we will continue to play a leading role in rebuilding the Israel Envelope.”
Jewish National Fund-USA has worked hand-in-hand with the residents of Israel’s south for decades. In addition to its latest efforts, the organization had already supported 30 housing development sites within Kibbutz Erez and is currently looking to expand another 50 lots in anticipation of the community’s future growth.
For more information about volunteering in Israel, visit jnf.org/travel.