Jerusalem of Green

The more members in the organization, the more initiatives that can be undertaken.

Taking part in the Jerusalem Green Fund clean-up activity on Good Deeds Day on March 15 (photo credit: COURTESY JGF)
Taking part in the Jerusalem Green Fund clean-up activity on Good Deeds Day on March 15
(photo credit: COURTESY JGF)
Although Jerusalem is central to the three main monotheistic religions, the adage “cleanliness is next to godliness” doesn’t ring true here. The city seems to be covered with litter.
In recent years, there have been efforts to make Jerusalem a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing city. A central figure involved in this is Naomi Tsur, the indefatigable former deputy mayor of Jerusalem (from 2008 to 2013) and Director of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. In 2015, she set up the non-profit organization Jerusalem Green Fund to “foster public accountability, and to promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability in Jerusalem.”
Alongside Tsur, seven other founding members were instrumental in setting up the organization: Richard Corman, development executive of the Jerusalem office of StandWithUs, who has a rich background in Jewish communal service in the United States and who exemplifies grassroots involvement by picking up litter in Jerusalem several times a week as he has done for the past four years; Prof. Ehud Ziv, emeritus professor of Biochemistry and former SPNI chairman; Dr. Yoel Segal, a senior consultant to UN Habitat; Dr. Chariklia Segal Tzariki, an MD and expert in medical technology assessment; Count Philippe Piccapietra, grand chancellor of the Order of St. Lazarus in Jerusalem, Dr. Yaffa Schuster, the founder and head of an organization that brings African theater to Israel; and Naor Yerushalmi, former director of Life and Environment, the umbrella organization of the environmental movement in Israel.
Jacqueline Rose, with vast experience in the environmental field, both in government and in private consultancy, is the fund manager responsible for the day-to-day running of the organization.
JGF comprises stakeholders who pay an annual membership fee ranging from NIS 900 to NIS 7,200, while membership for stakeholders under the age of 30 ranges from NIS 180 to NIS 720.
Stakeholders choose which level of membership they wish to pay for. All stakeholders, regardless of their contribution level, can initiate new projects or fund and implement initiatives from the JGF project menu. Membership entitles them to organize and participate in professional committees and educational workshops focusing on issues vital to Jerusalem, such as environmental education, urban agriculture and sanitation. The stakeholders do not have to live in Jerusalem or even in Israel; although they come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, they all share a desire to make Jerusalem a cleaner and more sustainable city and seek to create partnerships with communities around the world.
Although one of the main aims of the group is to make Jerusalem a cleaner city, Tsur and Rose stress that this is not simply about cleaning up after those who litter, but rather getting those who care about Jerusalem to be involved in making it a better city to live in.
While these initiatives do include clean-ups in neighborhoods alongside residents, they also consist of environmental grassroots education and urban food growing. In October 2015, the JGF approved its first grant of NIS 17,000 for an environmental education program for third-grade classes in the Pisgat David religious elementary school in Pisgat Ze’ev. The JGF funding, along with NIS 6,000 from the school, enables SPNI-trained guides to work with the children for four hours a week in taking care of the school yard and cultivating a vegetable garden.
The school recently started working with the neighboring Yoni Netanyahu school in conjunction with the local community center to reclaim and clean up the derelict area between the two schools. This improves the local environment and enables people of different backgrounds to meet and work together on a project that benefits them and the whole city, and generates a local urban food source.
On this year’s Good Deeds Day, the Pisgat David school held an event to rehabilitate the public space outside the school, which was attended by JGF representatives, SPNI educational staff and members of the Jerusalem Municipality.
Another major initiative that came under the auspices of the JGF at the start of 2016, but is funded separately, is the Jerusalem Bioregion Center, founded in 2014 in collaboration with the SPNI, the Environment Ministry and local authorities. JBC focuses on issues such as assessing ecosystem services, local agriculture and food security, and ensuring the use of sustainable pesticides. The center proposes a breakthrough concept in ecosystem management, shifting from a local to a regional approach, and is working on projects in Ein Kerem and the Palestinian Authority area of Eizariya, as it believes that municipal borders are not relevant to ecosystem management.
At the Green Fund’s second annual general meeting, the growth of the organization was discussed, having grown to an impressive 39 stakeholders within less than a year, with the number constantly increasing. The more members in the organization, the more initiatives that can be undertaken.
With a view to increasing visibility and familiarizing people with parts of Jerusalem that they might not know otherwise, the JGF organizes guided tours for a small fee. Revenue generated from these tours helps support JGF initiatives. Ranging from oneand- a-half to two hours, the tours cover the rejuvenated Mesila Park, which has become a vibrant part of Jerusalem, the Mount Scopus Botanical Garden, which provides a sanctuary for many endangered species of flora and fauna, and the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, tucked away between the Knesset and Supreme Court.
Everyone wants the city they live in to be aesthetically pleasing and clean, and this is especially true for Jerusalem, which holds so much importance for so many people.
As the Talmud notes, “Of the 10 measures of beauty that came down to the world, Jerusalem took nine.” Let us strive to keep it that way.
If you wish to become a member of the Jerusalem Green Fund or attend one of their walking tours, contact Jacqueline Rose at or on Facebook at