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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir, was guest of honor at the World Leadership Conference session devoted to the Blue Box within Israel's educational system. She was introduced by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and then by Ron Ferster, President of JNF Australia, who said that everyone "needs to make extra effort to impart Jewish heritage to the younger generation."
Ms. Tamir remarked that on the occasion of Israel's sixtieth anniversary, the Ministry of Education, together with KKL-JNF would be putting special emphasis on involving children in Zionism and ecology, by means of two new projects. "The first project, which we have already implemented, is a special "National Corner" in 40,000 schools throughout the country.
This corner includes a bulletin board with a satellite map of Israel, the Scroll of Independence, and other historical and up-to-date material. There are also six large posters, each of which tells the story of one of Israel's six decades. Children are encouraged to ask members of their families how long they have been in Israel, exactly where they have come from and then to correlate that information with Israel's history. As a result, the children become aware of their personal responsibility in helping to preserve the State.
"When we were children, the Blue Box was an "amulet of commitment" to Israel. Our second joint project is reintroducing the iconic KKL-JNF Blue Box to schools. Although the Blue Box is reminiscent of KKL-JNF's early glorious past, it also points to our new goal for the future - care for our environment - one of KKL-JNF's major tasks today. There are many opportunities to improve Israel's environment that are part of children's world - water, garbage, care for plants and animals, just to mention a few. We don't ask for money; the children use play money they earn by carrying out various projects related to Zionism and ecology. We want our children to learn about KKL-JNF, to realize that KKL-JNF is not only Tu Bishvat and to understand the ties between KKL-JNF goals and living in Israel today. "Since Efi became KKL-JNF World Chairman, there has been a new spirit and original thinking in KKL-JNF, for which I am very grateful. I look forward to continued cooperation in the future."
Benny Bloch, President of KKL-JNF Germany pointed out that in Europe; too, KKL-JNF plays a leading role in education. "We signed an agreement with KKL-JNF to teach ecology in schools in Germany, the Czech Republic and England. KKL-JNF's Ma'of program for young people is active in many European countries and in November 2008, with help of KKL-JNF, we will be sponsoring a European Council for youngsters aged 16-25 called "From Holocaust to Rebirth" in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht and in honor of sixty years of Israeli statehood."
Together with Stenzler, KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Yigal Yasinov, responsible for KKL-JNF educational activities, presented Minister Tamir with a historical bulletin board from Israel's history, which the Minister promised to hang in her office. Unfortunately, there was no time for questions and answers, as WLC participants hurried to the specially chartered train that was about to whisk them to the Negev town of Dimona.