DANIEL ATAR: The Jewish link to the environment goes back to the holy roots of the Torah.
(photo credit: KKL)
For the last 117 years, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) has been helping to turn the Zionist dream into a reality, said its world chairman Daniel Atar on Sunday.
Speaking via video to attendees of this year’s Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York, Atar reminded the crowd of the organization’s many accomplishments, including cultivating and rehabilitating the land from an arid desert to a state that is green and blooming. He said KKL-JNF helped build new communities and establish water reservoirs, planted hectares of trees and paved bicycle paths.
But Atar said with all the successes of the Start-up Nation, his work – and the work of the Diaspora Jews who committed their support economically and otherwise to the Jewish state – is not done. He called on Diaspora Jews to partner with KKL-JNF to continue fulfilling the Zionist dream.
Zionism in this century, he said, is two-fold. In Israel, KKL-JNF is helping to develop Israel’s periphery. KKL-JNF’s goal is to increase the population of select cities in the periphery to a minimum of 50,000 people each.
“The task we are facing: 50 million new residents in the Galilee and a million new residents in the Negev,” he said.
KKL-JNF’s other front is supporting Jewish communities around the world. Atar said that among the biggest challenges the Jewish people face today are assimilation and the ever-widening gap between Jews in Israel and Jews in the Diaspora. KKL-JNF is using its strength to give back to those people around the world who helped Israel build itself up for so many years.
“Since its early days, Judaism has been an inclusive, multi-colored religion,” said Atar. “We are one nation and we are all part of this tapestry... We have a responsibility to strengthen the connection between Israel and Jews around the world.”
He said that even after 70 years of independence, “we cannot stand on our laurels.”
Diaspora Jews are Israel’s “natural partners” and will “enable us to continue the Zionist mission today,” he said. “Your blessed work enables us to continue our work for the Jewish nation. Together, we will lead Israel to new achievements over the next 70 years.”
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