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Seventy U.S. Educators Visit Israel in July

From July 17 to 29, 70 U.S. educators visited Israel as part of a leadership development program designed to deepen their commitment to education reform and service.  They explored alternative models of education and methods of approaching complex societal challenges, including how Israeli schools address issues of co-existence, religion and minority populations.

As part of their 12-day experience, they met with leading Israeli educators and social entrepreneurs, including Einat Wilf, member of Knesset (Parliament) and chair of its education, sports and culture committee, as well as Nir Tzuk, managing director of Ashoka Israel.  They were introduced to trailblazing Israeli initiatives such as the Center for Educational Technology.

The educators were participating in the REALITY Israel program, supported by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Samberg Family Foundation, in partnership with Teach for America, the national nonprofit that recruits and trains outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity.  While in Israel, they met with their counterparts in Teach First Israel, a similar program that launched in 2010 and now has 143 teachers working in 33 schools across Israel.

“These inspiring young leaders are among those powering the education reform movement that is sweeping our country and our world,” said Lynn Schusterman, Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network, which includes the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.  “REALITY enables them to learn from each other while challenging them to build their leadership skills and examine the values that drive their commitment to creating change in their communities, in the Jewish world and beyond.”

Now in its fourth year, REALITY Israel has brought more than 200 Teach For America educators to Israel.  As part of this program, corps members explore Israel through a service and education lens, as well as engage in self-reflection and learning that connects their secular service work as teachers to Jewish values and ideas.

For more information about REALITY Israel, please visit www.realityexperience.org.

JNF Projects Increase Israel’s Water Supply

As record-breaking temperatures and drought conditions sweep the U.S., we have all been given a glimpse of what Israel, a small desert nation, has been coping with for decades.  Israel’s chronic water scarcity has given rise to technologies recognized as global models.

Israel was acknowledged as a world leader in agricultural water use efficiency in a recently published report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  The UN chose Israel’s Dan Region wastewater treatment plant as one of 30 projects from around the world that demonstrate the ability of local authorities to deal with environmental problems.

In Israel, nearly 50 percent of the water used to grow crops is recycled wastewater.  Overall, Israel reuses 80 percent of its water resources — the highest rate in the world.

Over the past two decades, Jewish National Fund (JNF) has worked to alleviate Israel’s chronic water shortage, primarily through the construction of recycled water reservoirs that have increased the water supply by 12 percent.  The JNF Parsons Water Fund, with a $100 million fundraising goal, was established to expand upon this vital work.

The fund supports initiatives that address the water shortage, issues of water quality and trans-boundary challenges, with a focus on recycling, developing alternative water sources, education, stream and aquifer restoration and research.  One of its unique approaches is to operate largely as a revolving fund, lending capital for water projects and using repayments for future investments.  In addition, the fund identifies projects where its philanthropic contributions can leverage three to five times the invested sum by drawing matching funds from public sources.

Visit jnf.org/water to learn how JNF increases Israel’s water supply by 12 percent, funds research on the use of recycled water and saves enough freshwater to meet the needs of 4.4 million people a year.

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