Jewish National Fund Builds a New Fire Station in Ma’alot-Tarshiha
By: Leiba Chaya David
Penny and Stephen Rosen of New York, in front of the new fire station
being built in the northern Israel town of Ma’a lot, dedicated in loving
memory of their son, Adam.
As Israel settled back to normal following its large-scale 70th birthday festivities earlier this month, a different kind of celebration took place in the northern town of Ma’alot-Tarshiha. Sheltered only by the walls of a partially constructed building, a distinguished group of guests, including Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) leadership, local and national politicians, public figures, and dozens of uniformed officers and fire fighters, gathered to honor Jewish National Fund New York board members Penny and Stephen Rosen. It is thanks to the Brooklyn-based couple and their generous donation that Ma’alot now will soon have a new fire station.
For the Rosens, the fire station holds more meaning than just a physical building—it’s dedicated in memory of their beloved son, Adam, who passed away several years ago. Adam was known for his tremendous respect for all life, and his great love for Israel. “Adam would be so pleased that we are able to do this, to help save lives here,” Penny said at the ceremony.
The project has been nearly a decade in the works, ever since the Rosens became involved with the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services and understood how much help Israel needs to maintain a well-trained, adequately equipped fire fighting force. With the support and guidance of Jewish National Fund, Penny—who is co-chair of JNF’s Fire and Rescue Task Force—turned her attention to Ma’alot, a place that inspired her early Zionism when she learned of the terrible massacre that occurred there in 1974.
“I have always loved Israel,” Penny said. “It is my soul’s home.” With a passion for saving lives, the Rosens have helped raise thousands of dollars to supply Israel’s underfunded fire departments with urgently needed equipment and fire trucks. Friendships have been made with fire fighters throughout the country, and, in addition to their commitment to Ma’alot, the the couple also donated an additional fire station in Mitzpe Ramon, in the heart of the Negev Desert.
The new Ma’alot-Tarshiha fire station is set to go into operation in the fall of 2018, and will boast an increased staff, state-of-the-art communication systems, and new fire trucks. “Thanks to Jewish National Fund, we are building a strategically located station that will be capable of meeting the broad needs of the region, including Maalot-Tarshiha, Ma’alei Yosef, and Tefen,” said Shahar Tzair, commander of the Galilee Central Station.
As guests finished their speeches, all gathered to lay the cornerstone of the new building. To add a special touch, a time capsule encasing a scroll signed by the Rosens, JNF leaders, fire fighters, and Israeli officials, was placed under the cornerstone.
Despite the heartfelt acknowledgements of all present, Penny did not wish to take full credit for the fire station. “The sign is wrong,” she said, referring to the banner hanging above the stage. “This is not in our honor; we are just helping. It is for all of you who are putting yourselves out there, and we thank you for allowing us to be a part of it.”
Indeed, each person who rose to thank Penny and Stephen insisted that the greatest respect, honor, and gratitude go to the dozens of fire fighters who risk their lives to ensure the safety of the Israeli people. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset MK Nava Boker referred to legislation she has proposed to recognize fallen fire fighters—along with fallen soldiers and police officers—in official Yom Hazikaron commemorations.
“A home for heroes” is how Jewish National Fund National President Dr. Sol Lizerbram described the future station. “It will be well-built and have great equipment,” he said, “but it is really for the heroes of Israel who don’t get the recognition they deserve.” Russell F. Robinson, JNF’s CEO, added, “It is a home for heroes, funded by heroes.”