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Special Interview JNF Head Satisfied with First Official Visit to North America

At the conclusion of a two-week working tour of the United States and Canada, Mashe Rivlin, the Jewish National Fund’s new world chairman said that he is encouraged and satisfied with the responses he encountered to the new projects and plans of the JNF.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the JNF headquarters here, Rivlin said that the purpose of his visit, his first to the United States and Canada since he was elected to the new post in January of this year, was to raise money for the new projects of the JNF and explain its work. The JNF, Rivlin said, is embarking on a series of new projects and they were presented to and enthusiastically received by JNF leaders and activists in Canada and the U.S.

In his meetings and talks in Canada and the United States, Rivlin said he discussed the idea of creating The Forest of the Jewish Child near the city of Beersheba in the south of Israel. “The idea is that next year, which is the 30th anniversary of the State of Israel, Jewish children from all over the world will participate in planting a new forest,” Rivlin said. According to the plan, Israeli school children will write letters to Jewish children across the world asking them to take part in this special project. Special trees, Rivlin said, will be planted in this forest, in the memory of the Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust.

During his visit to the U.S.–which ended last weekend–Rivlin said that he met with the JNF leadership across the country, with the regional presidents of the JNF and its executive directors. “I presented all of them with the development plans of the JNF for the next five years.” According to Rivlin, these plans include “important development projects” in the Galilee, the Arava and the north of Sinai. The plans include the establishment of infrastructure designed for future agricultural settlements in the Arava region, the creation of industrial parks in the Galilee and the reclamation of dune lands in the south of Israel and the north of Sinai, Rivlin said.

CANADIAN PROJECTS

“In Canada, we initiated a new project,” Rivlin said. “The plan is to raise money from at least 100 Jews, with each contributing $36,000, for the purpose of establishing a garden around the walls of Jerusalem. Each contributor, “Rivilin continued, “will be given the title of ‘Rebuilder of Jerusalem.’ The project is shared by the JNF of Canada and Israel and the city of Jerusalem.” According to Rivlin, 21 Canadians have already joined the project. He expressed the belief that it will not be long before the rest of the 100 contributors are found.

Another project is the Canada Park, to be established in the Ayalon Valley near Jerusalem, Rivlin said. He said that the cost of this project is approximately $16 million, of which $11 million was already raised.

“I conclude my visit in the U.S. and Canada very encouraged from the readiness I found here to encounter the new challenges facing the JNF,” Rivlin said. “I also received the impression that the prevailing feeling is that the JNF ought to recapture its important role in the process of developing and building Israel.”

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