JNF’s work with modern pioneers

After a group of 30 families was evacuated from their homes during Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, they moved into a remote corner of the northwest Negev that borders Egypt and became modern-day pioneers.

In the years that followed, with help from Jewish National Fund, they transformed the desert into communities with organic farmlands.

Yedidya Harush was 17 when his family left his home in the community of Atzmona in Gush Katif  to start a new life in the Negev. He is now the JNF Halutza-Bnei Netzarim liaison for Negev Community Development and he is in the Valley this week to let the Phoenix Jewish community know about the Jewish communities being developed in Halutza. (Halutza is Hebrew for “pioneer.”)

He is speaking tonight about “Developing Communities in the Negev” at a JNF event in a private home and will also speak tomorrow night at a Valley Eruv Project screening of “Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front,” 7:30 p.m. at Ahavas Torah: the Scottsdale Torah Center, which is presented in conjunction with the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival and several Valley Congregations in commemoration of Yom Hazikaron / Israel Memorial Day. (Cost is $18 adults, $10 students.)

When Yedidya and his family moved to Halutza, his was one of 30 families; now there are 250 families living in Halutza’s three communities and there are plans to build two more communities. Last summer, during the conflict with Gaza, JNF helped provide 50 shelters for the families; the shelters are connected to their homes since they are so close to the border that they only have a few moments’ notice. JNF has also helped build a synagogue, schools, trailers, parks and a playground and a medical center is currently being built.

Learn more about the development of Halutza here:

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