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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sarit Schonbrun
JNF Communications Manager
212-879-9305 ext. 222
sschonbrun@jnf.org

Attention Snowbirds:
Be a Part of CAARI’s 25th Anniversary Volunteer Trip to Israel

October 16, 2007 -- New York, NY -- For the past 25 years, over 1,500 retirees and semi-retirees from the U.S. and Canada have chosen the wintertime path less traveled, forgoing Florida to spend the season in Israel on Jewish National Fund's Canadian/American Active Retirees in Israel (CAARI) volunteer trip.

JNF is currently seeking people 50 or older with a love for the land of Israel for CAARI’s 25th anniversary trip. A unique work, study, and touring program, CAARI lets participants experience Israel while giving back to their homeland, immersing themselves in local culture, and connecting with Israel’s vibrant people.

“The program is designed to feel, touch, hear, and see Israel from the mountains to the desert, from sea to sea, and from ancient to modern,” said CAARI coordinator Susan Horwitz.

The trip ranges from 2 to 8 weeks between January 10 and March 4, 2008, depending on how long participants choose to stay in Israel. It begins in Eilat, where the group will visit nature reserves, hike the foothills, tour Timna Park -- one of Israel’s geological wonders -- and learn about life in the Arava Desert. From there the program continues to Tel Aviv for four weeks of community service. Assignments include teaching English to elementary school children, visiting patients at a local medical center, assisting underprivileged people in various community facilities, and maintaining JNF forests.

“The first time we went on CAARI, we just fell in love with Israel,” said Alice Schwartz of Eastchester NY, who has participated 10 times in the last 20 years with her husband Chick. “The program is phenomenal and the volunteer work is extremely satisfying. While working in the nurseries, it is unbelievable to see these tiny saplings and know that they will one day be part of the massive forests planted by JNF. Working there really gives you a connection to the land; I had always heard about planting trees in Israel, and now there I was pruning those very trees.”

Participants will also tour the Galilee, Negev, Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem with licensed Israeli tour guides and educators, visiting archeological and historical sites, museums, and JNF projects.

They will meet with foresters, artists, journalists, scientists, military personnel, and people who benefit from JNF’s work. A speaker’s forum with community leaders, government officials, journalists, and professors will focus on the issues and challenges facing Israel. Special events include Friday night Oneg Shabbat celebrations, Israeli folk dancing and singing, community service appreciation dinners, and a Tu B’Shevat Seder.

“This is my 10th year working with CAARI and I love to see the enthusiasm and excitement of the participants,” said Horwitz. “They share a passion for the Land of Israel and its people and a desire to learn more about the country. Each day when they return from their community service assignment, they can’t wait to talk about the wonderful experiences they had.”

“This will be our 14th year with CAARI,” said Anice Stark, a program regular from Toronto along with her husband Arnold. “We stay for the entire trip—the sooner we can escape the winter weather, the better! Lots of people come back year after year, and we have created a CAARI family that keeps in touch when we are not together. That is one of the most wonderful parts of participating in CAARI.

“Israel is such a small country,” she said, “but every year we see something new, or we get a new perspective on a site that we have visited before. It is amazing.”

Agreed Schwartz: “JNF has an ‘in’ at a lot of places, so we get to see things and visit sites that we might otherwise not be able to.”

For many CAARI participants, a favorite volunteer assignment is teaching English in elementary schools and seeing the children grow up year after year.

“In addition to our love for Israel, and our desire to visit relatives and friends, the magnet that draws us to the program each year is our volunteer work helping 4th, 5th and 6th grade students at The Baal Shem Tov School in a disadvantaged neighborhood,” said Seymour Karpas of New York, who has gone on CAARI for the past six years with his wife Gloria. “It is so rewarding to return each year and see how well the students are progressing. They anxiously look forward to our arrival and shower us with warmth when they see us. Once CAARI participants work at the Baal Shem Tov School they insist on being reassigned there on subsequent trips.”

For more information or to register for CAARI 2008, call 877-563-8687, email caari@jnf.org or visit http://www.caarivolunteers.com/ for itineraries, testimonials, photos, and more.

Captions:
Top- Gloria Kaufman of New York, Esther Katz of Winnipeg, and Henry and Sophia Oshin of New York enjoy a hike through the Galilee.
Middle- Joan Hulkower of New York hauls soil at a JNF nursery.
Bottom- Marilyn Hershfield, of Brookline, MA, teaches English to Israeli elementary school students.

All photos available as high-resolution jpegs upon request.

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Jewish National Fund (JNF) began in 1901 collecting coins in blue boxes to purchase land and return the Jewish people to their homeland. In over 106 years, JNF has evolved into a global environmental leader and become the central address for the land and people of Israel. JNF has planted 240 million trees. Built over 1,000 parks and recreational areas. Constructed security roads. Educated students around the world about Israel. Created new communities so that Jews from around the world would have a place to call home. Discovered drip irrigation and new means of growing plants under arid conditions, bringing green to the desert. Built over 190 reservoirs and water recycling centers, increasing Israel’s water supply by 10%.

As a United Nations NGO, JNF sponsors international conferences on desertification, shares afforestation techniques and funds research on arid land management. Is restoring northern Israel, making it home again to its residents. Is supporting Israel’s newest generation of pioneers by developing the Negev Desert, Israel’s last frontier. For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit http://www.jnf.org/. JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.

 

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