Aussie kids in the know

September 28, 2010 Agencies
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Zev Bashan is full of praise for the high degree of awareness by Australian Jewish children of the importance of the environment and the work undertaken by the Jewish National Fund in Israel to promote the need for widespread agricultural and water resources.

Zev Bashan

Just back from Israel the JNF Executive Director in NSW said: “The surprising thing is that the children here, especially those who come through the Day Schools, are far more aware of these important priorities than their Israeli counterparts.”

“It used to be that many 7-11 year olds said that all they knew about the Jewish National Fund is that it plants trees and that the family has a Blue Box on the bookshelf”.

Bashan credits one of the most popular and successful JNF programs, “KKL’at Shabbat” which introduces the Blue Box to younger kindergarten aged children and connects it directly to the tradition of tzedakah just before welcoming the Sabbath for this high degree of awareness.

“To put it in contemporary terms, we are aiming to demonstrate how tree planting also benefits the environment through carbon sequestration and absorbing carbon gases, one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect which is resulting in climate change and global warming”, he said.

In addition, current education programs emphasise that a healthy ecosystem – forest, in this case – also includes the various trees in Israel and that many have roots in Jewish tradition, such as olive, date and cypress.

Mr. Bashan reported on having visited several of the current water projects in the Negev being undertaken by the JNF, including the water treatment facility at Shomriya which is being built in two phases. The first, planned for completion mid next year is a water treatment plant; the second a more comprehensive combination waste water/flood water capturing facility.

The treatment plant, according to Bashan, will have a capacity of 60 million litres with the more comprehensive facility holding 300 million litres.

“The Shomriya facility will enable the area to augment its field crops by 500 acres in the first phase alone, which will be of enormous benefit to the Shomriya community”, he said.

Said JNF president in NSW, Stuart Rom: “The importance of this and the many other water projects being undertaken by the JNF in Israel cannot be over stated. The very existence of the country, its economy and the lifestyle of its people depends on the adequate supplies of water for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes, without which the country would be incapable of surviving, let alone growing.

“If we are to see a vibrant Israel in future years, a country which can benefit from adequate housing, adequate farming facilities and adequate export growth of the products its leading factories produce, then the availability on a continuing basis of adequate water supplies must continue to be among its highest priorities”.

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