JNF Australia’s biggest annual fundraising campaign – Green Week – was boosted in Sydney last week by the presence of four members of KKL-JNF’s executive leadership team, including world chairperson Danny Atar.
Atar had a busy schedule, but took the time to connect with members of JNF Australia’s board, mingle with Moriah and Mount Sinai College students, visit Maroubra Synagogue and give a pep-talk to volunteers manning the phones during the Green Sunday telethon.
More than 300 young people from Jewish schools, youth movements and shules gave of their time to help out in the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth call centres.
Funds raised will support the creation of a rehabilitation garden at Beit Halochem Ashdod, a landscaped respite area at Tel-Nof Air Base, and parks and new fencing at Merchav Am.
Atar received the warmest of welcomes at Moriah College, when year 2 students sung Hebrew songs for him in full voice, and senior students joined him in a Q&A session.
Moriah teachers who’d met Atar last month on JNF Australia’s inaugural Educators’ Tour of Israel, shared with him how visiting JNF Australia-supported projects in Israel has inspired their work.
Atar was visibly touched and personally presented a certificate to teacher Michal Levy-Hardy, in recognition of her commitment to encouraging a love of Israel and KKL-JNF values in her students.
He also presented a certificate to Salome Woods, who began working at JNF Australia’s national office 34 years ago and was the driving force behind the JNF’s Blue Box campaign in NSW.
Atar told The AJN his time in Australia was “absolutely inspiring”.
“I feel that Australian Jews are even more Zionist than Israelis – or close to that anyway,” he quipped.
“Everyone I’ve met here is so supportive of KKL-JNF, and so knowledgeable about Israel and all the JNF projects going on there.”
Atar said KKL-JNF is proud of its record over the last 117 years of making Israel “the only country in the world that has achieved a total net gain in trees, and reversed desertification”.
He added, “A key goal today is strengthening communities in Israel’s peripheral areas by really investing in them.
“Every Jew born around the world will be part of the vision of KKL-JNF, and I’d encourage every Jewish Australian to go to the KKL-JNF website to express their own feedback on what we can do to improve.”