Winter 2004-2005

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MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Winter 2004 - 2005

MERCAZ "Greens" Lead Fight

MERCAZ representatives on the Keren Kayemet/Jewish National Fund Board of Directors, Drs. Eilon Schwartz and Alon Tal, are leading the KKL's effort to require tunneling a portion of the Trans-Israel Highway (Route #6) in order to prevent damage to the landscape and ecological system in the Ramat Menashe area between Wadi Ara and Wadi Milik.

Siding with the KKL and the other environmentally-oriented petitioners, Israel's High Court of Justice recently ordered construction of the northern part of Route #6 suspended to await the outcome of further National Planning and Construction Board meetings over alternative plans for the road.

At issue is the 18-kilometer stretch of the Ramat Menashe hills between Wadi Ara and Wadi Milik, which is the largest open nature area in Israel's central region. Home to flowering "geophytes", including squills, hyacinths, gladiolus and orchids, the area is rich in forests, streams and vineyards and is frequented by hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists.

Environmentalists such as Schwartz, Director of the Jerusalem-based Abraham Joshua Heschel Center for Nature Studies, and Tal, Director of Research at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the founding director of Adam Teva V'Din/Israel Union for Environmental Defense, are demanding that the highway be tunneled, despite the added costs of construction, in order to prevent causing irreparable damage to the area known as the "Tuscany of Israel".

Elected in 2002 on the Green Zionist line, Schwartz and Tal joined MERCAZ Olami on the eve of the 34th World Zionist Congress. Since then, they have taken leading roles in raising ecological concerns within Israel's Jewish National Fund, such as instituting a full review of KKL policies to insure "sustainable" development and spearheading the effort to prevent unrestrained development in western Jerusalem and the Judean Hills. They are also helping inculcate greater awareness to the importance of ecology in Conservative Zionism.

Spend Spring Semester in Israel

Calling on Conservative Jewish high school students to spend the upcoming spring semester in Israel! Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY), a four-month semester, and USY High's two-month program are unique, multidimensional high school programs in Israel open to 10th-12th graders throughout North America. They both offer an intensive, high-level academic curriculum combining required and advanced high school studies, superior Israel, Hebrew and Judaic courses, and an incredible journey of self-awareness vital to any high school student.

For further information on TRY and USY High, contact Ramah Programs in Israel, (212) 678-8883, e-mail:,


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