Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Jewish National Fund announces new projects at its National Conference


November 24, 2017

At its 2017 National Conference in South Florida, the Jewish National Fund announced plans to expand its Alexander Muss High School in Israel and build a state-of-the-art park in Be’er Sheva. These new projects will further transform Be’er Sheva as a part of JNF’s goal to revitalize Southern Israel through its Blueprint Negev initiative.

While Be’er Sheva is Israel’s second largest city, twice the size of Tel Aviv, it ranks sixth in terms of population. Today, the city is in the midst of a renaissance as it becomes Israel’s “water city” in the desert. JNF’s projects are changing Be’er Sheva’s image among both residents and tourists. In fact, Be’er Sheva is easily the most likely Israeli city to become known on an international scale, thanks to its public works and bustling city streets.

“I am so grateful to be here in Florida with Jewish National Fund’s donors,” said Be’er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich. “JNF is transforming our city, and we owe everything, all of our successes, to Jewish National Fund for Russell F. Robinson’s [JNF’s CEO] forward-thinking strategy and Blueprint Negev initiative to bring 500,000 people here. I can tell you it’s going to happen.”

Be’er Sheva, often referred to as the capital of the Negev, is the crown jewel of Jewish National Fund’s Blueprint Negev initiative which aims to improve quality of life for all residents of the region and encourage a population shift away from crowded, expensive central Israel. Danilovich is working with JNF to construct a new park that will increase the quality of life for the city’s residents while also attracting new residents and tourists, providing a boost to the local economy.

Previously, JNF has worked with Danilovich on several projects for the city including a 15,000 seat amphitheater, new infrastructure, a bridge that crosses the Be’er Sheva River, and the destination site Abraham’s Well. In addition, the centerpiece of JNF’s efforts in the city is the development of the 1,300 acres Be’er Sheva River Park, a world-class $300 million urban revitalization initiative that has turned what was once a massive junkyard into a lush greenway for pedestrians and bicyclist and, as importantly, a space for family celebrations and community festivals.

Jewish National Fund’s National Board president, Dr. Sol Lizerbram, announced plans to open a new campus in Be’er Sheva for AMHSI-JNF. In addition to its campus in Hod HaSharon, located just 20 minutes outside of Tel Aviv, this new campus will make is possible for AMHSI-JNF to bring some 5,000 students annually to Israel to take part in a choice of six-, eight-, or 16-week sessions—currently, AMHSI-JNF has roughly 1,200 students matriculating annually. The campus is expected to cost between $50-60 million and will bring new jobs to the community while also enabling additional high school students from U.S. to experience Israel in an impactful way.

“The addition of a Be’er Sheva campus is a double victory for Alexander Muss High School in Israel,” said Joseph Wolfson, President of the AMHSI-JNF Board and Jewish National Fund’s National Board Assistant Vice President. “We remain committed to a significant and continued growth in the student body, with teens coming to learn with us from the United States, Australia and beyond, and this new location will allow us to facilitate that increase. Furthermore, we are proud to do our part in supporting the development of Be’er Sheva, a city that our parent organization, Jewish National Fund, has been dedicated to for many years.”

Since 1972, AMHSI-JNF has been pioneering the academic and experiential study of Israel and Jewish history at the high school level. Students are inspired to live outside their books, encounter new ideas and challenge themselves to find their own link within the chain of Jewish continuity. Studying abroad isn’t just for college students, time spent abroad during high school is the perfect way to enhance student’s resumes and help stand out when applying to top colleges.

Throughout Jewish National Fund’s three-day National Conference in South Florida, more than 1,200 people participated and heard some of the most dynamic speakers in Jewish philanthropy today share their inspiring stories to continue building on the organization’s strong connection to Israel. In addition, the gathering also welcomed 250 students from over 100 campuses to attend JNF’s College Summit, making this the largest gathering of college students in Jewish National Fund’s history.

Jewish National Fund’s 2018 National Conference will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, on Oct. 26-29. For more information and to register for the 2018 JNF National Conference, please visit jnf.org/events-landing-pages/2018-national-conference.


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