The KKL-JNF Youth and Education Department aims to instill a deep and lasting relationship between the Jewish people and Israel through numerous programs and activities for students, teachers and delegations both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
“The Jewish vision began with Herzl and the World Zionist Organization. At KKL we aim to implement this vision, and this is the theory with which we go into schools, youth groups and the community,” Hani Dasa, the manager of the Overseas Department in KKL-JNF’s Youth and Education Department, told The Jerusalem Post recently.
We, the Jewish people, should act to develop and preserve land and give back for the good of all of humanity, she said.
Dasa spoke on the occasion of KKL-JNF’s 115th anniversary, about the organization’s initiatives in teaching the young about the importance of Zionism and the environment, or Eco-Zionism.
“KKL-JNF is a Jewish Zionist organization and the active arm of the Jewish people to build the State of Israel for generations,” said Dasa.
“By build I mean taking on all the initiatives represented in the colors of our flag: brown, which represents projects developing the land, blue, which represents water and water management, and green, which represents forestry and the development and protection of our forests,” she explained. “Through these facets we expose kids, youth and educators to all the activities of KKL.”
Through the work of five emissaries – in the US, Canada, France and Australia – the organization is able to reach tens of thousands of children and youth in schools and community centers abroad.
In addition, the organization brings thousands of youth to Israel every year and provides them with unique experiences, enhancing their connection to the land and the environment.
Through the dozens of initiatives run by the organization, from being a ranger for a day to contributing to agriculture in the desert, from planting trees to touring the country and meeting Israeli youth, Dasa said the organization aims to provide participants with its “ecological footprint.”
“We want to reach as many people as possible, including non-Jewish people, so that more people will understand the culture and values that Israel operates under,” she said. “We develop for the whole country, not just for one sector or group – our aim is to create a balance for all citizens to enjoy.”
By bringing delegations to Israel, they are able to connect between “the stories and the land,” Dasa explained.
“They see the history and how it has developed over the years – everyone connects to it in his own way, via his own tradition and culture,” she said. “Every country has its own interests in how it connects to Israel and KKL, whether through preservation of nature, ecology or Zionism,” she said.
The organization works with tens of thousands of schools throughout the world as well as local youth groups and Jewish organizations.
Sofia Dulcini, a 22-year-old from Uruguay, told the Post, “Since I can remember I have been involved with KKL. In one way or another, Keren Kayemet supports educational Jewish programs in my country.
“When you are two years old, you can start going to the Jewish school [in Uruguay], and every Shabbat you are there you see the Kupa [the KKL blue and white box] on the table. And here is when you start connecting with Israel,” she explained.
Dulcini said since she was a child she has felt a connection to Israel – a feeling that was enhanced when visiting Israel through a KKL teaching seminar.
“Here in Uruguay ever since you can remember you hear about Israel and Eco-Zionism,” she said. “But until you’re there you cannot imagine how important your contribution is. When you live in Israel you really understand and feel all the Eco-Zionism for which we work and educate.”
Dulcin said visiting Israel and meeting her Israeli counterparts was a life-changing experience.
“When you see all these things the only thing you want to do is shout to everyone: ‘Look! Look what we are doing!’” she said. “I came back to Uruguay and started working with KKL because now I know that all the things we heard every day in school, tnuot nohar [youth movements] and [what my] family told me was real! If we want to keep it, we also need to continue working for it.”
Today, Dulcini is the coordinator of education and volunteering at KKL Uruguay.
“All the time people say that we need to change the world and we feel happy saying so, but maybe we forget that we need to do more and talk less,” she said. “Eco-Zionism is the way to better Israel and also to help better the whole world.”
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