Queens of the Blue Box

February 29, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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The JNF National Board has named the late Bessie Krell z”l who was a staunch Blue Box collector in Adelaide and Peta Birnbaum of Melbourne as joint National Blue Box Workers of the Year for 2011.

For 110 years, Jews all over the world have contributed their pounds, dollars, roubles, forints, zlotys and other coins into a little blue box from which sprung the modern Jewish State of Israel.

Bessie Krell

Peta Birnbaum

Those who will have paid attention to the stories told of this little tin will know that much of the successes of Israel are founded on land purchased by the Jewish National Fund through money placed in the famous Blue Box by ourselves, our parents, our grandparents and their parents too.
Today Blue Box money creates roads, water facilities, land reclamation, playgrounds, facilities for the physically challenged and a whole myriad of other worthy activities undertaken by the JNF in Israel for the benefit of those who live there and indeed for the benefit of Jews throughout the world.

Whilst every coin or note placed in the Blue Box achieves miracles, it is not just the person who places this money in the tin who makes a difference to the landscape and lifestyle of Israel. There is someone who comes in between and it is this someone – the Blue Box collector – who ensures that the money we place in the Blue Box reaches its destination – a worthy project undertaken by the JNF in Israel.

Each year, the JNF in Australia acknowledges the top collectors in each state by selecting a National Blue Box Worker of the Year whose name is then inscribed for all to see in perpetuity at a special Monument erected to Blue Box workers in Park Australia in the Misgav region of the Galilee.

Even at the age of 92, and not long before Bessie Krell sadly passed away, she was still concerned about completing her Blue Box round. What an example of dedication and commitment! It is for this very reason that the National Board felt that Bessie should be honored posthumously for her amazing contribution to JNF over her lengthy life.

However, the board was also struck by another nominee for the award, Peta Birnbaum of Melbourne who serves not only JNF but also the NCJWA. Many of us complain about having too much to do but Peta is not one of them. Not only is she an avid collector during the Blue Box Campaigns, but she also volunteers to participate in the mop-up telephone calls that bring in the last few dollars each campaign that have helped ensure that JNF Australia is the most successful Blue Box country in the world and that is a fact!

JNF National President Michael Naphtali said “The Blue Box has been the symbol of hope for the Jewish People for 110 years. JNF turns that hope into reality and we salute our Blue Box contributors and especially our 2011 Joint National Blue Box Workers of the Year for ensuring that JNF can continue to make a difference to the lives of those who live in Israel whilst strengthening the connection to our homeland for those who don’t”

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