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The concluding session of the Fifth KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference opened with the remarks of Dr. Morton Mower, National Board member of JNF America, who noted that he and his wife really enjoyed meeting everyone. "At the same time," he added, "I see a number of problems. Nine years ago, when I started getting involved, especially with water and border issues, water was being discussed, to see how this problem could be dealt with. Although there was already appropriate technology at the time, we are still facing a critical problem. It could be that dealing with this on a national level is beyond KKL-JNF's mandate, but there are people who read the organization's covenant in a broader way.
"There is a phenomenon in Israel that whatever was not invented or developed here, isn't made use of. I respect Zionist ethics, but principles such as these can adversely affect achieving the greater goal. We need a more practical approach. The problems that the country's leadership is facing are no different than those that industry faces. In industry, results are constantly monitored and improved - that is the way to change."
Avi Dickstein, Executive Director of KKL-JNF's Resources and Development Division, noted the Mower family's huge contribution to Israel's development. "We are ending a long, interesting and exciting journey today. Some of us already arrived here two weeks ago, on Holocaust Remembrance Day. We were all here for Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and we all celebrated sixty years of Israel's independence in the first Jewish city.
"After he was liberated from Auschwitz, Victor Frankel wrote his famous book, 'Man in Search of Meaning'. We are all looking for meaning - in life, in our communities, through the development of the state of Israel. What is shared by everyone here is that we all speak the language of development. In Jerusalem, we look to the future - how can we bring more donors and more resources to the Negev, Galilee, to protect the environment? A huge thank you to everyone for coming here and for your contribution towards helping Israel's development!
"This was one of our best conferences, maybe our best ever. There was only one workshop missing: how to raise a new generation. It is our obligation to think about the future, as we were thought about in the past, and to train a new generation of leaders. I hope that at the next conference, we will see many more young faces." Dickstein thanked the many partners who made the conference possible.
A number of KKL-JNF presidents talked about their experiences at the conference and formulated the message they would be taking with them as inspiration for future activities.
Gail Paratz, State President QLD Australia
"I am happy to be part of the largest delegation to the conference, which is proof of KKL-JNF Australia's total support. The Leadership Conference was an extraordinary experience. It gave us a vision for the future that we can take home with us. We also had an opportunity to meet KKL-JNF and other people from all over the world, who are partners to this vision."
Roberto Munoz, President of KKL Chile
"On all my other visits to Israel, I learned a lot, but still, there was a lot I didn't know that I learned about at this conference. I am confidant that we are going home with the feeling that we are working for the right thing, for Israel and KKL-JNF."
Nina Paul, Board of Trustees, JNF America
"Contrary to what some people here think, I am not moving to Neot Semadar... even though I asked a lot about the place and it was a wonderful and interesting experience. The conference was exceptionally interesting. I have been coming to Israel for 38 years, and this was my first international tour. I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and hearing about their involvement with KKL-JNF. Many of us speak Hebrew, but we all speak the same language-Zionism. I would like to thank the organizing committee and all the various teams."
Jacqui Ben Zino, President, KKL-JNF Belgium
"I am new to KKL-JNF. Until recently I knew KKL-JNF only from brochures. This time I also learned about the people. It has been wonderful to meet all of you. I am departing with a project to raise funds for and many things I have learned."
Michael Naphtali, Former National president, JNF Australia
"From what I have seen and heard, and this is not criticism KKL-JNF is perhaps the most unmarketed organization. We have world-class quality, on an historical scale. It is almost like a country within a country, and KKL-JNF has even existed long before the State of Israel. In my community, they will know that when they speak about Israel, they are talking about KKL-JNF."
Max Federmann, Chairman, KKL-JNF Sweden
"I came as the leader of a mission of four people. This is the first time I am participating in a KKL-JNF conference, and I must say that I am excited to be part of the refreshing Zionist experience. The learning process created new energies in me and gave me a lot of motivation, and when I get home I will be full of ideas. All of us have been empowered. We are glad to belong to the broad Zionist family. For me KKL-JNF is now a synonym for Israel. This is my first time in Eilat-and I haven't even had time to get to the swimming pool..."
Jacobo Adato, President, KKL Mexico
"I would like to say that although KKL-JNF is an institution that is more than one hundred years old, it is still relevant. We still have hard work ahead. Many Jewish institutions all over the world makes us more sensitive and reminds us of the tragedies of our nation has been through. KKL-JNF, on the other hand, emphasizes the good things, the greatness. We have homework to do when we return to our countries."
Bernard Rebibo, President, KKL France
"First of all, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The talent each person brings here has proven to us that we are members of the best organization, which is able to help the State. Our mission may have been small at this time, but on Independence Day, there were 100 representatives here from France, and in a week 130 of our leaders will be arriving to study the topic of water. I was happy to meet people from all over the world. I hope we will continue to receive information from Jerusalem. It is what will help us to continue our work."
Amnon Orbach, Board of Directors, KKL-JNF Germany
"I am going back to Germany with many experiences and deep impressions. I have discovered a different KKL-JNF than the one I met two and three years ago-spread out all over the country, the Negev green and full of trees, with every tree and plant filled with knowledge and soul, a moist and wet Negev with every kind of reservoir.
"The other side has been to become acquainted with the creative people, the people of the beginning, who devote all their energy and resources to developing the Negev, people full of ideas, who create something out of nothing. We met Ezra Ravins and Udi Gat, who made a great impression with things they said from deep in their heart - for example, the vision of green energy.
"I discovered scientific excellence here in areas the world is deliberating about and actually, lagging behind KKL-JNF. I discovered leadership, directed by Efi Stenzler, without whose insight none of this would happen.
"When we visited Dimona, I will tell you frankly, I shed a few tears. They were inspired by the song, 'A Dunam Here and a Dunam There.' For me this is the Keren Kayemeth of Smilansky and Ussishkin. KKL-JNF will go far, very far. The conference was organized without a hitch, thanks to Avi Dickstein. I shall proclaim the message in academic and religious institutions, and may we have the opportunity to be back for enrichment and recharging our batteries, so we can go on working."
Dr. Gabriel Goldman, President, KKL Uruguay
"I see that this conference showed many results from previous conferences-everything that was said in the earlier conferences was implemented. We are returning to our country with the understanding that important things are being done here."
Eli van Dam, Executive Director, KKL-JNF Holland
"All of us are drawing conclusions about the conference, but for KKL Holland the conference has not yet been concluded. Today we are still expecting a special visit to Holland Park. Many thanks for the exemplary organization of the conference. "
Stella Salem, President, KKL-JNF Greece
"Every conference fills us anew. Every person brings the messages and the experiences back to his or her community."
Semi Dayan, President, KKL Brazil
"It has been amazing for me to learn about KKL-JNF. It is important for us to know about the work of KKL-JNF in Israel. I am new in the KKL-JNF family, and I have been welcomed with love. We did not know that we, the Jews of the Diaspora, are so important to you. Now that I understand the importance of the work you are doing, I am sure you will be hearing more from the community in Brazil."
Sara Gold, Victoria State President, JNF Australia
"This is the first conference in which I have participated. I kept hearing people say, 'I didn't know KKL-JNF was doing this... and that..." It seems like KKL-JNF is the best-kept secret in the world. This trip led me to conclude that it's not enough to hear about it. You have to come and see what is being done here."
Dr. Sharon Marcovitz Hart, President JNF Canada and WLC Co-Chairperson
"Nobody in Israel opens a faucet, eats or goes hiking in a forest without KKL-JNF. You know this for a long time. You have a dedicated staff that organized an extraordinary conference. We learn in the Torah about the scouts Moses sent. Ten returned and said that the land was frightening, that its inhabitants are giants and we are grasshoppers. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are giants. This has been an amazing trip. Everyone has been saying that KKL-JNF is Israel's best kept secret, and I say-it's time to let this secret out!"
Ron Ferster, Federal President, JNF Australia
"We have heard so many good things. What I would like to take home with me is the knowledge that I am part of an organization that has become a global organization. I am proud to promote KKL-JNF.
"KKL-JNF is very relevant to all of us in the Diaspora. There is a need for change, and people don't always like this. The wonderful heritage of the past changed the Land of Israel. The only way to do this in the future is that young people take on the leadership. As we said, this is not an easy transition. The entire mission has been inspired from the enthusiasm exuded by the spirit of the people of KKL-JNF in Israel"
Rob Schneider, CEO, JNF Australia
"We definitely make a difference. Anyone who says a hundred year old organization is anachronistic must come and see the KKL-JNF."
Amos Greenberg, Board Member, KKL-JNF UK
"I got a better understanding about what's happening in Israel and what KKL-JNF is doing. I was born in Israel, and I know the places well from having served in the army, but the actual changes that were visible made my heart beat faster. I will be telling people in England about it when I return."
For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail [email protected]