A Resonant Experience in Israel for JNF of Canada Students

Two York University students talk about their experience in Carmel after the fires.

Published: March 17th 2011
in News » Local

From Left: Alexandra Lorenzetti, Ilan Mann, Rebecca Woods Baum, Tracy Goldman, Jess Weiser, Michael Bonn (tour guide)

In the wake of the deadly forest fire that raged through the Carmel Region in early December, a group of Toronto students recently joined a week-long JNF of Canada mission to the devastated area and other JNF sites throughout Israel.


I was fortunate enough to speak to two of said students. Ilan Mann, 21, attends York University and studies Fine Arts Cultural Studies. Tracy Goldman, 23, attends York University where she majors in Law and Society with a minor in Anthropology.


Sarah Bauder (SB): What was your impetus for participating in the recent JNF trip to Mount Carmel following December’s devastating fire?


Ilan Mann (IM): On the second night of Rosh Hashana, I found out that a cousin of mine in Israel was killed in the fire in the Carmel region. I wanted to do something to honour her memory and help to mitigate the devastation, so I approached the JNF with the idea of taking a student mission to the region to help with the rehabilitation efforts. I knew that JNF was the organization that was spearheading the rehabilitation efforts, both on the ground in Israel and abroad. I knew that my appeal to get involved would not fall on deaf ears at JNF, which, after all, advertises itself as 100% Israel—a reputation they have definitely lived up to, in my experience.


Tracy Goldman (TG): I had heard about the fire and was very touched by it. As soon as I heard about the mission to Israel to help out in the forest I was very interested. I love being able to make a difference somewhere in need, and my love for Israel of course contributed to my decision as well.


(SB): Can you recall some of your initial impressions of the affected region?


(IM): The once lush Carmel region was absolutely devastated by the fire. It was a shocking and sobering sight to behold.


(TG): My first reaction to the region was, “WOW! “I couldn't believe my eyes. It was all black. It really looked like a lot had died; a very gloomy and dark area.


(SB): You participated in Carmel Forest rehabilitation. Can you describe some of the work you did?


(IM): Much of our work focused on clearing brush to prevent future forest fires.


(TG): Some of the work consisted of taking away dead branches from the ground and putting them in a pile to later be burned in a controlled fire. This would prevent any possible future fires from spreading so quickly. We also cut away dead branches from the bottom of bushes to make a much cleaner area in the forest.


(SB): In your week-long trip to Israel, what initiatives did you take part in? What other JNF sites did to visit?


(IM): In addition to the work we did in the Carmel, we got to work in the Galil, as well as see JNF sites all around the country. The work that JNF is doing in Israel is incredibly inspiring. Every inch of the country, from the northernmost point (where we had the privilege of hiking) all the way to Halutziot in the Negev (where we ate carrots that were grown in the sand) was amazing to behold. Not only is JNF 100% Israel, but 100% of Israel has been touched by JNF.


(TG): We visited many other JNF sites, such as Rosh Hanikra where we walked through beautiful caves carved by water, and we helped clear away weeds from fresh vegetables growing in the ground in the desert near Halutziot.


(SB): Now that you have returned to Canada, what is your overall perspective of the experience?


(IM): Having returned from this incredible experience, I can readily say that I have a completely different perspective on the work that goes into making our homeland bloom. I'm looking forward to getting involved in future JNF initiatives, and I'm glad to have seen with my own two eyes that JNF is 100% Israel.


(TG): My overall perspective of the experience was that I realized JNF does a lot more than just tree-planting, and the trip made me realize how important it is to sustain the forest areas, as well as how many people really do care to help out. It was really an amazing experience.

Related articles: (JNF, Carmel, Fire, Israel)

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