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JNF-USA’s World Zionist Village Will Offer Education to Jews from Around the Globe

The $350 million project will serve as a place where high school students and adults from around the globe can gain an education and forge stronger ties with Israel.
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November 4, 2021
Photo courtesy of Stefan Oberman

Over the next five years, Jewish National Fund-USA will be building a 20-acre campus in Be’er Sheva called the World Zionist Village. The $350 million project will serve as a place where high school students and adults from around the globe can gain an education and forge stronger ties with Israel.

“We are building the Jewish National Fund-USA World Zionist Village because we need to start a new conversation about the future of Zionism,” said Jewish National Fund-USA President Dr. Sol Lizerbram. “For too long, we have let those who have no interest in Israel’s future – our future – deliberately misconstrue and denigrate what Zionism is and means. It’s time for all of us to come together and reclaim Zionism as the force for good it has always been and will continue to be for generations to come.”

Primarily, the World Zionist Village will be a second campus for JNF-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel. The first campus, which JNF-USA has owned since 2013, is in Hod HaSharon and offers study abroad programs that range from six weeks to 18 weeks for high school students. Along with catering to students from abroad, the new campus will also feature a program for 18-year-old Israelis on pre-army gap year programs who will join 18-year-olds from the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Stefan Oberman

According to JNF-USA First Vice President and Chair of the B7 Executive Joseph Wolfson, in 2018, it became clear to the organization that their objective of increasing attendance from 620 to 1,500 students per year was within reach. 

“At the beginning of 2020, just before the full onset of the pandemic, applications for enrollments at Muss were oversubscribed for the first time,” he said. “While this was a ‘pleasant problem’ to have, it also meant that we had to find a solution to the conversation we started back in 2018 regarding growing enrolments.” 

The World Zionist Village is also going to offer tech-focused internships, tapping into its connections with Lauder Employment Center, Nefesh B’Nefesh, Intel, Dell and Cisco to help college graduates and post-graduates obtain internships in Be’er Sheva that will last one or two years.

“It’s time for all of us to come together and reclaim Zionism as the force for good it has always been and will continue to be for generations to come.” — Dr. Sol Lizerbram

“This internship program will not only help our young people land their dream jobs, but it will also connect them to the land and the people of Israel while they live in our multi-use campus,” said Lizerbram. 

Adult learners and scholars from Oklahoma to Dimona will be able to go to the village and learn, too. There will be short- and long-term accommodations available. 

JNF-USA decided to establish the World Zionist Village in Be’er Sheva because it already has a 15-year relationship with the city. The organization built the Be’er Sheva River Walk and the largest amphitheater in Israel, as well as made other quality-of-life-improving philanthropic investments there, Wolfson said.  

According to Lizerbram, along with being the place where Abraham purchased a well over 3,000 years ago and initiated the Jewish people’s connection to the Negev Desert, today, Be’er Sheva is “an emerging international biotechnology, cybersecurity [and] R&D center [and] home to top universities. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Israel, and the natural home to the World Zionist Village.”

Carole Shnier, a member of JNF-USA’s World Zionist Village Committee, said she decided to support the project “because the future of Zionism and Israel depends, in large part, on the strength, involvement and commitment of our next generation of leaders. The question is, how do we inspire our community’s future lay leaders to get involved?”

When the campus opens, Lizerbram is confident it’s going to be a place where Zionism will thrive. 

“There has never been a more important time for our community to reclaim our Zionist narrative and identity,” he said. “The World Zionist Village will be a world-class facility where supporters of Israel from around the world will meet, engage and plan for our movement’s future.”

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