Celebrating Hadassah’s Centenary and KKL-JNF’s 110th Anniversary

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:52 AM

As part of Hadassah’s centenary celebrations, a festive event was held on October 17th, at Hadassah Youth Village to honor Hadassah and KKL-JNF’s many years of working together to develop the state of Israel.

As part of Hadassah’s centenary celebrations, a festive event was held on October 17th, 2012 to honor Hadassah and KKL-JNF’s many years of working together to develop the state of Israel. The event, which took place at the Hadassah Youth Village, was attended by some 2,000 Hadassah volunteers from the USA, Israel and other countries all over the world.

Hadassah representatives and Youth Village students doing arts and crafts together. Photo: Yoav Devir

Photo: Yoav Devir

On this occasion, special emphasis was laid on the Beersheba River Park project, which KKL-JNF is in the process of developing in the Negev, and which Hadassah is involved in establishing and nurturing. The Hadassah management has decided to devote all the donations it receives for KKL-JNF over the next three years to the continuing development of the park.
This is just one example of the many occasions on which Hadassah has supported projects initiated by KKL-JNF all over Israel: land redemption, land preparation for settlement, afforestation, draining swamplands, contributions to Israel’s water economy, making KKL-JNF sites accessible to all, combating forest fires, and more. This support began before the state was founded, and it still continues today.

“If I were to enumerate all our joint projects, it would take me until Hadassah’s 101st anniversary to finish doing so,” said KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler with a broad smile, during his speech at the conference.
Stenzler emphasized the central role of the Negev in KKL-JNF’s vision for the years to come: “Hadassah has enlisted in the campaign to develop the Negev, and will, among other things, contribute to Beersheba River Park, where we have turned a neglected and polluted garbage dump into a spacious park for tourism and recreation,” he said.

L-R: Miriam Aron, Efi Stenzler, Marcie Natan, Barbara Goldstein & Menachem Leibovic. Photo: Yoav Devir

Arch of Hadassah Youth Village.
Photo: Yoav Devir

On the importance of cooperation with Hadassah, the World Chairman added: “In the past hundred years there has been no other organization like Hadassah, which every day proves anew how committed Jews are to one another. I’m not at all surprised that it is these ladies who have raised the flag of solidarity. We have walked arm in arm ever since the beginning, and together we built the road that led to the foundation of the State of Israel.” 
KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Menachem Leibovic spoke of the unique importance of the relationship with Hadassah as a major voluntary organization that represents the entire Jewish people in all its variety.

Exhibition on KKL-JNF and Hadassah cooperation over the years. Photos: Yoav Devir

Cooperation between KKL-JNF and Hadassah began in 1926, and throughout the years ever since then, Hadassah has supported KKL-JNF’s efforts to build and nurture the Israeli state and its work on behalf of Israel’s residents and their environment. Hadassah National President Marcie Natan spoke of the two organizations’ shared work over the years: “There has been total synergy between Hadassah and KKL-JNF ever since the beginning of our involvement in Israel,” she said. “Today, too, this cooperation is being continued by a new generation of leaders who are working for the sake of the generations that will come after them.”
“The Jewish National Fund is Zionism!” declared Barbara Goldstein, who is Deputy Executive Director of Hadassah’s office in Israel. “Together we built the state, and we shall continue to build it together.”
After the speeches were over, the Hadassah representatives left for a tour of the Youth Village, where they heard about the village’s history and met youngsters studying at its residential school. It was moving to see how little the generation gap and the language difficulties mattered as the two sides got together and began to make each other’s acquaintance. Together, they leafed through the village’s photograph albums and took part in creative activities.

Youth Village Students. Photo: Yoav Devir

New friends. Photo: Yoav Devir

On the afternoon of the same day, Jerusalem’s Binyenei HaUma Conference Center hosted another festive event, at which KKL-JNF opened a booth offering souvenirs, publicity material,  donation forms for Beersheba River Park and a booklet about this project which, throughout the years to come, will be one of the major collaborations between KKL-JNF and Hadassah. Many of those present visited the booth to inquire about the new project, the very latest in a long line of shared undertakings stretching back over many years.