Jewish National Fund Sponsors North America's Green Israel Program

The Jewish National Fund says it is proud to sponsor the Habonim Dror North America (HDNA) Green Israel Program.

The program brings together the values of Judaism, Zionism and social justice through a Zionist-based, environmentally friendly gardening project at HDNA’s seven summer camps located in California, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Toronto, and Vancouver. Its goal is to foster campers’ connections to Judaism and Israel while teaching them to live more environmentally conscious lives.  

The main focus of this experiential education project is the gan, or garden. Campers plant and tend to a garden of vegetables typically grown in Israel (but not electric gardens like the LED one in Jerusalem). Six camps have either a large gan or small chava (farm) on their grounds, while the other makes use of potted plants or local farms.

The Green Israel Program was started at Camp Tavor in Three Rivers, Michigan three years ago because of a desire to bring more environmental education into HDNA’s camps and create a connection with the land.

Funded by a grant from JNF, the current incarnation of the program was created by Ilan Brandvain, an alumnus of Camp Tavor and a member of Kvutsat Aseef in Ramat Gan, Israel.

“JNF is proud to partner with Habonim Dror on its Green Israel Program,” said Mara Suskauer, JNF’s director of Israel advocacy and education. “This initiative teaches the importance of taking care of our land and how that relates to Zionist values, both of which are concepts that JNF has been teaching for the past 108 years.”
In addition to gardening, the program includes Hebrew lessons, instructions in preparing classic Israeli recipes like shakshuka, zaatar, and Israeli salad “from seed to plate,” and educational activities on topics like Jewish agriculture, Jewish values and the environment, the connection to the land of Israel, JNF’s environmental projects in Israel, and labor as a Zionist ideal. 

“In designing the program we wanted to connect campers with environmental issues using Israel and Judaism as our tools,” said Shawn Guttman, national director of HDNA.

“Across our camps you can find activities ranging from water reclamation and growing techniques in the Negev to making challah from scratch (including the flour!) to A.D. Gordon’s concept of finding one’s self through working the land. The program has been very successful and we hope that, with the help of the JNF, it will continue.”

For more info, see the JNF website.

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