By Dina Apartsin
(EJNews) – My time on the JNF University (JNFU) Mission to Israel was an absolutely incredible experience. The people I met were amazing, from our guide to the fellow participants from across Canada. It was an opportunity to connect with other Jewish students and tour Israel in style, a smooth ride from start to finish.
I have been to Israel on an organized trip before, but not like this. Seeing all that the Jewish National Fund does, apart from the usual attractions Israel has to offer, was what made this trip so unique. JNF is deeply rooted in Israel’s history, and it was interesting to first see the origins of what they used to do and how the pioneers developed various parts of Israel from nothing to something.
We visited parks all over Israel that were funded by the JNF (Canada Park was an absolutely beautiful place and one of Israel’s many recreational parks) as well as the projects JNF Canada has been involved with recently.
We had the opportunity to travel to the Arava desert to see the incredible work of an organization called AICAT (Arava International Center for Agriculture Training), visit the education center (funded by JNF) and meet the students brought from all over the world to learn sustainable models that they can implement in their home countries where growing conditions are poor.
We spoke with students from Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kenya about their experiences in Israel and their time at the school. It was clear they all have fallen in love with Israel just like we have. The students take that love back to their home countries and educate their communities, they become the greatest Israel Advocates.
Of course, time with JNF isn’t complete until you plant a tree while you’re there. I had the chance to plant my own tree in Israeli soil next to many other new additions.
The timing of the trip was special, because we were lucky enough to be there for the duration of Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Both days were equally significant, but the change in how the country felt from one day to the next was something special.
Getting involved with the Edmonton Jewish Community brings you one step closer to home, and in my case, it did! For further information about JNFU, contact Jay Cairns (780) 481-7881.