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“Zionism in Action: Awarded for Building Seven Jewish Towns”
by Arutz Sheva - Hillel fendel   
November 25th, 2010

Prize for New Towns in Negev The Ohr National Missions has received the Prime Minister’s Prize for its work in starting seven new communities in the Negev and Galilee.

Roni Flamer (pronounced Flahmer), who founded and heads the organization, told Arutz-7, “The secret to our success is that we work quietly, along the lines of the rabbinic dictum, ‘One whose deeds precede his wisdom, his wisdom will endure.’ For eight years, we invested our energies in taking action and creating facts, without much publicity. As is taught, Blessing is found in that which is hidden from the eye.”

Flamer and Ohr received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiatives and Innovation last week, together with Pnina Furst and Maya Efrati. Furst set up an SMS-based network of over 15,000 workers and 1,000 employers that allows employers to find temporary workers within minutes.  Efrati developed a process that converts used polyethylene bags into purses, wallets and the like using an environmentally-friendly glue that creates strong, multi-layered sheets. 

Ohr [Light] was founded several years ago by a group of young idealists from central Israel, with the goal of promoting Jewish settlement and development in the peripheral areas of the Land of Israel, particularly in the Negev and the Galilee. The organization has developed novel and modern tools to locate families and consolidate core groups to strengthen existing communities in the periphery.

Ohr has founded Tzukim in the Aravah (eastern Negev), Be’er Milkah, Merhav Am, Givot Bar, Sansana, Haruv, and Retamim, as well as Mitzpeh Ilan in the Galilee. It has also helped changed the negative growth trend in other communities, bringing in families to breathe new life into the towns.

“Our communities are different than those in Judea and Samaria,” Flamer said. “Our target market is Israelis in general, and not necessarily the religious; 70% of [our people] are secular, people who are very concerned about jobs, weather and the like. They don’t all speak 'Zionism' – but Zionism is rather something inside them serving as a motivating factor."

Flamer noted that in the early years, “we used to have parlor meetings in homes, but now we are better known... We work in total cooperation with the government, especially the Ministry for the Development of the Galilee and Negev. In the last Settlement Fair that we held in Tel Aviv, there were 15,000 people, of whom more than 2,000 have already begun the process of moving to one of our towns…We are active in more than 40 communities.”

Flamer also has a message for the residents of Judea and Samaria: “I wish to strengthen and encourage you. We are all in the same battle. The Negev and Galilee are also suffering from a freeze of sorts – perhaps not because of orders given in Washington, but rather all sorts of other delays and obstacles. We are all working for the same goal and to overcome similar challenges.”

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