MORE than 300 volunteers from Jewish day schools and youth movements have already signed up to man the phones for JNF Australia’s Green Sunday Telethon, to be simultaneously held in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth on Sunday, February 12.
Coinciding with Tu b’Shevat, the national campaign will raise much-needed funds for the ongoing recovery effort in Israel in the aftermath of the devastating 2016 bushfires that destroyed hundreds of homes and caused widespread emotional, financial and psychological hardship.
The telethon will also provide funds for the purchase of -flame-resistant clothing and equipment for Israeli firefighters, and allow JNF to begin restoring burnt areas of forest through selective planting, forest rehabilitation and installation of service roads and firebreaks.
Israeli firefighter and KKL-JNF lowlands and coastal regional manager, Gilad Mastey, will be Green Sunday’s special guest in Sydney, where he and his children will lend a hand in the call centre.
“During the Carmel fire, we fought fires for three consecutive days, both in large teams of KKL-JNF firefighters and the National Fire and Rescue Authority,” Mastey said.
“One case I remember clearly was when I was forced to work alone with a firefighting vehicle along a single route for several hours to stop the fire front that was threatening to spread beyond the buffer.
“I must emphasise the tremendous respect and admiration I have for the teams with whom I work, whose dedication and commitment in fighting wildfires is incredible.”
The Green Sunday campaign will be expanded in Sydney this year into Green Week.
It will feature a series of events from February 14-17, headlined by 22-year-old IDF Lieutenant and 2015 Presidential Excellence Award recipient Sivan Sisay, of Ethiopian descent, to raise funds for the Atachlit Beta Israel Village – a project close to her heart.
Tali Weinberg from JNF Australia told The AJN that the parents of Israeli-born Sisay had departed their Ethiopian village and “walked for more than 60 days and over 1000 kilometres to Sudan, where they were rescued and taken to Israel”.
“Today, Sivan is an officer in the IDF and proudly serves her country.
“Her story is one of triumph, overcoming many hardships along the way.”
Atachlit, based in Kiryat Gat, is a project that helps Jews in Israel of Ethiopian origin to integrate into Israeli society while retaining their cultural heritage.
“I’m very excited about being the guest speaker and to share my story at the JNF Australia Green Week,” Sisay said.
“I’m honoured to be a part of such a great cause and to hopefully make a change.”
If you would like to volunteer for Green Sunday or find out more about the national telethon or Green Week events, phone JNF on 1300 563 563 or visit www.jnf.org.au.