Jewish National Fund (JNF)
Non-profit to develop the land of israel, 1901
In 1897 a math professor named Zvi Shapira had an idea to create an organization that would raise money to buy up land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. In 1901 Theodore Herzl proclaimed the creation of the Jewish National Fund. One person stepped forward to offer the first donation: 10 pounds in honor of Shapira, who had died. Herzl made the second donation, his aide made the third, and the Jewish National Fund — the JNF — was up and running.
It started with the first purchase of 50 acres of land in 1903. In 1905 the first trees were planted in honor of Herzl, who had died a year earlier, beginning a tradition that continues today. The JNF became a central institution of the Yishuv, serving as an environmental agency, a city planner, an educational ministry a water authority, and an agricultural research department. JNF provided the first loan to start the new neighborhood outside Jaffa that became Tel Aviv.
By the 21st century the JNF had developed over 250,000 acres of land, built a couple hundred reservoirs and dams, built the infrastructure for more than 1,000 communities, and created several thousand parks. JNF has planted more than 250 million trees, making Israel the only country in the world to enter the 21st century with more trees than it had at the start of the 20th.