The modern-day pioneers transforming Israel’s South
Photo: Courtesy JNF
Dallas residents join Jewish National Fund-USA to hear from Yedidya Harush of Halutza

By JD Krebs

On Wednesday, April 6, Harush joined Jewish National Fund-USA and community members in Dallas for the organization’s 21st Century Pioneers cocktail reception hosted by Jenny and Jon Birnbrey, to share his personal story and the story of the modern-day pioneers who are building the new age of Israel.

In the early days of the Zionist movement, Jewish pioneers like David Ben-Gurion trekked the length of the Jewish Homeland, building communities out of swampland and desert plains until it turned into the thriving country it is today. However, there’s still much work to be done. And residents in Halutza, an emerging town led by Israel’s modern-day pioneers on Israel’s southern frontier, are following in the footsteps of their ancestors by once again turning the desert into an oasis, with help from Jewish National Fund-USA.

Located in the Northwest Negev Desert, less than a mile from the Gaza border, Halutza was formed by families that were evacuated from several Gush Katif communities during Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005. 

“We wanted to create something new,” said Yedidya Harush, Jewish National Fund-USA’s liaison to the Halutza community and local resident. “We took what could have been a devastating loss and turned it into the creation of another beautiful, flourishing community despite the harsh environments.”

Those harsh environments include a barren desert landscape, a lack of rainwater, and incendiary balloons sent from terrorists in Gaza. “The conditions can be tough,” added Harush. “However, with grit, innovation, and support from our friends, we are tougher.”

The support comes, in large part, from Jewish National Fund-USA and generous donors. With JNF-USA’s help, Halutza’s pioneers built roads, brought in prefabricated temporary housing, erected hundreds of greenhouses, planted crops, and built fields of solar energy panels.

“JNF-USA truly is a great friend of ours,” said Harush. “They understand we are building something incredible, and they have been with us every step of the way.”

Recent JNF-USA projects in the Halutza communities include the Halutza Medical Center, the Halutza Student Program, the Naveh Synagogue Project, and the Young Farmer’s Incubator Project, which trains young Israelis to become farmers.

Today, Halutza has grown from its 30 founding families to over 2,500 families. “It’s amazing how our ‘little’ community has developed and flourished,” said Harush. “We embrace the pioneering spirit of our forefathers, and I’m so excited to continue creating a home in the desert for more families.”

For more information or to learn about future events in Dallas, contact Ellie Adelman, JNF-USA Director, Dallas at or 214-433-6600, ext. 945. 

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