The UK’s oldest Israel charity has said it plans to raise money for sports facilities in Israel as part of its annual Green Sunday telethon appeal to mark the Jewish festival of Tu BiShvat this week.
JNF UK is aiming to raise £200,000 to support eight Jewish communities in Israel’s “neglected periphery” ranging from cities to kibbutzim, as well as supporting Bedouin and Druze communities.
“Green Sunday represents the unbreakable connection between British Jews and the State of Israel, and this year is no different,” said the charity’s chief executive Yonatan Galon. “The generosity of our donors will help us ensure that those growing up in Israel get the happy, healthy childhoods they deserve.”
In recent years JNF has focused on areas such as the Negev, developing towns, cities and villages “that have the greatest potential to absorb Israel’s booming population,” identified as a key national challenge.
It said many of the locations it works in either have nowhere for children to play and exercise, or else the available options are “rundown and disused”. One playground had to be shuttered because it offered no protection from rocket attacks.
The charity said taking part in sports activities is “associated with a variety of positive effects, such as self-confidence, well developed social skills and physical well-being, alongside providing an opportunity to simply relax and have fun”.
The Jewish festival of Tu BiShvat is also called Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot (New Year of the Trees). Today it is celebrated as an ecological awareness day in Israel, with trees planted in celebration. JNF has planted 240 million trees since it was founded in 1901.