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Israel Throws Big Party to Celebrate Jnf’s 90th

May 21, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish National Fund, founded by the World Zionist Organization in 1902, is celebrating its 90th anniversary here this week.

About 600 JNF activists from 21 countries were greeted by national leaders and feted by almost everyone. President Chaim Herzog sent a message praising the JNF’s “enlightened ecology” and its long record as an instrument of immigrant absorption.

The air force went all out to put on an air show for the visitors, who were guests at an air base in northern Israel on Tuesday.

There was a sound-and-light pageant at the Citadel in Jerusalem, complete with giant screens and laser effects.

The all-immigrant orchestra from Ra’anana gave a special concert for the benefit of the JNF mission. It featured as soloist 14-year-old Yoni Gandelsman, a violin prodigy from the former Soviet Union.

A highlight of the visit was the inauguration of Campaign Machane HaChaim to establish a summer camp for children in memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust.

The project, which will cost an estimated $10 million, was initiated by an organization of Jews from Poland and concentration camp survivors in the Los Angeles area.

The ceremony was attended by Mordechai Dayan, co-chairman of the JNF board of directors and Ruth Popkin, president of JNF of America.

The camp will be located on JNF land at the Golani junction west of Tiberias. It will represent “a significant increase in the investment of world Jewry,” in Israel, according to JNF Chairman Moshe Rivlin.


Rivlin quoted the late Chaim Nachman Bialik, Israel’s poet laureate, who wrote at the JNF’s 25th anniversary 65 years ago, “The sky’s span above the head of a nation is equal to the land area beneath the feet of this nation.”

That was a fitting introduction to the air force’s tribute to the world gathering of the JNF. With the visitors sitting on the tarmac craning their necks upward, four F-16 jet fighters and Sikorsky and Defender combat helicopters put on a display of aerial acrobatics that awed the spectators.

It was an expensive show. The price tag on one F-16 is $35 million and the cost of flying such an airplane is about $20,000 an hour.

At the end of the air show, the guests were greeted by the air force commander, Maj. Gen. Herzl Bodinger, who gave a brief history of the base where “thousands of missions took off to protect the north.”

The general added, “We are well aware of your work here and we appreciate it.” To which Joe Hess, national campaign chairman of the JNF in the United States, replied: “Ours is the easy job. We support the development of the land from afar, but it is your young people who take their lives to the front to protect this land.”

The jets that streaked over the air base to the wonderment of the air force’s guests exemplified how much the world has changed since the JNF was founded, a year before the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903.

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