The students were in Israel society, and this year, says Leadership Training Division program director Yehezkel Jesin, the students decided to deal with water conservation in Israel.
To that end, he said, they worked in partnership with the Jewish National Fund to raise $20,000 for the Parsons Water Fund, the JNF's comprehensive plan to combat Israel’s ongoing water crisis, Jesin said. “Each student had a personal goal of $1,100, and they all engaged in a variety of fund-raising techniques to get the money,” including raising money via e-mail and Facebook, running a “learn-a-thon,” and a raffle.
While water conservation and environmental issues were part of the motivation for getting involved in this particular project, said Jesin, last year's Carmel Forest Fire was also a major motivator, as it showed Israel's vulnerability in the face of drought.
“The students decided that water was an important enough issue in this day and age to dedicate their work to. Israel's water needs are great, and the students wanted to try to make a difference, in some small way,” says Jesin.
They actually had a bigger impact than even they themselves expected, says Jesin. “They worked on a desalination project up north, and built a water catchment system in Kfar Vradim to ensure that rainwater is efficiently used.” In the space of barely a week, in fact, the students initiated and completed several projects, putting in long, but satisfying, hours.
“In Yemin Orde, the students spent a day cleaning up and rehabilitating a playground that had been gutted by the Carmel Fire,” Jesin says. “It was a full day's activity, but they saw an amazing change – what in the morning had been a wasteland by evening was a beautiful green lot, ready for the children to come back to. They were so happy to see that they had made a difference – and it's a great example of what is meant by 'yishuv ha'aretz.'”