Mar 22, 2021  By Stacy Simon Lewin  Category: Environment,

Giving to Israel and making the desert bloom

Zionism and a love for Israel runs deep in my family’s roots. My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were big supporters of Israel and the Zionist movement. Growing up in Macon, GA, Judaism and Israel played an important role in shaping who we were and who I am today.

My husband Scott’s family settled in Israel in 1948 from Romania before moving to Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1960s. Israel was there for them when they needed a home, and it’s something we will always be grateful for.

In 1980, I traveled to Israel on a NFTY teen tour. I can still remember sleeping under the stars in the Negev Desert and waking up to fresh baked bread topped with peanut butter and chocolate spread. The sweetness and happiness of that moment has remained with me until today, and it was also at that moment my love for the desert was born.

As an adult, I became more involved in environmental and conservation issues, and Jewish National Fund-USA was always included in my philanthropic giving. When I read about the various water and infrastructure projects Jewish National Fund-USA does in Israel in a copy of B’Yachad, I wanted to get more involved and help Israel directly. Soon after, the natural step was to join the National Water Task Force.

Scott and I have visited Israel on several Jewish National Fund-USA tours and missions and have seen how much this organization directly helps Israel. In 2017, I joined the Israel H20 Tour, which focused on Israel’s incredible water solutions and technology. I marveled at how vital water infrastructure is being built for thriving communities deep in the Negev. The desert is indeed blooming, and Scott and I want to do our part.

In honor of our recent 25th wedding anniversary, we decided to sponsor the expansion of the desalination system at Moshav Paran. Located in the Central Arava, close to the Israeli-Jordanian border, Paran is home to 115 families and receives its water from a well containing brackish and undrinkable water. The desalination equipment removes the salt and impurities, and our donation will expand the facility’s system, allowing Paran to grow with the construction of an additional 65 new housing lots, thanks to JNF-USA’s Housing Development Fund.

Our support dovetails with Jewish National Fund-USA’s mission to develop the Negev and Galilee and attract new residents to live there. None of these communities are possible without water—the most precious resource. Scott and I are honored to play a role in helping Israel succeed.

Stacy Simon Lewin is a member of the National Water Task Force and JNF-USA’s Atlanta Board. To learn more about the National Water Task Force or to join, contact Talia Tzour Avner at ttzour@jnf.org or visit jnf.org/water.

This article was written in Jewish National Fund-USA’s 2021 Winter B’Yachad magazine. To read the full B’Yachad, please click here.