“It was during my time as a JNF Blue Box collector in St Ives, that I realised that many senior newcomers did not know many people their own age,” remembers Sheila Lazarus, JNForever coordinator. “I also wanted to encourage them to join me in raising urgent funds and to feel they were doing something worthwhile for Israel and the JNF.”
After hosting the Pesach 1995 Blue Box launch in her home, Sheila decided to hold monthly meetings and at the first one, with only eight people present, she offered to organise a trip to Canberra.
Word soon spread, and two packed coaches departed from Bondi and the North Shore on a three-day tour, the highlight of which was an afternoon tea with the Israeli ambassador.
Now, 27 years later the JNForever database has grown substantially. Avid attendees enjoy monthly meetings with fascinating speakers, have been on countless trips ranging from day outings to 12-day trips across Australia from Tasmania, Uluru, Alice Springs, Darwin, Kakadu and the Sunshine Coast, and as far afield as New Zealand.
The 2021 trip to Canberra was particularly special with an emotional visit to the United Arab Emirates embassy where the ambassador welcomed the group warmly and spoke of peace and unity.
“I have learned so much from our members, many of whom are Holocaust survivors or have faced tragedies. To see them enjoying time together has made all the hard work so worthwhile,” Sheila says.
The members of JNForever continue to help JNF in raising necessary and urgent funds to secure Israel’s future.