Our History

It's not just about trees, it's about our roots...

1901 - Theodore Herzl established the Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael (KKL), known in English as the Jewish National Fund, to acquire land in Israel for Jewish settlement. Around the world, including Canada, Jewish communities started fundraising campaigns to help establish new agricultural settlements for the tens of thousands of Jews fleeing persecution, mainly from Eastern Europe.
1905 - KKL’s land holdings included land near the Sea of Galilee, Ben Shemen, and Hulda (for the very special purpose of planting olive groves in memory of Herzl). With this, KKL embarked on a new venture: afforestation (planting trees). At the end of 1935, after 15 years of tireless effort, KKL held 89,500 acres of land, home to 108 communities. In September 1939, World War II broke out, the extermination of six million Jews across Europe began, and the need for a Jewish homeland became ever more urgent.
1948 - On May 14, 1948, with the withdrawal of the British forces, Israel was proclaimed independent. Upon statehood, KKL worked on planting forests and reclaiming the land for agricultural purposes, providing employment for thousands of new immigrants. After the war, KKL concerned itself with enterprises that were central to the building of the State: settling new areas; absorbing immigrants and providing them with employment working the land; reclamation for agricultural purposes; afforestation and development projects.
1950s - In the 1950s, intensive afforestation began in the Upper Galilee and development continued in and around Jerusalem. The Six-Day War of 1967 started a fresh page in the history in Israel, and country-wide afforestation accelerated the number of trees planted in KKL forests surpassing 100 million. As the 1970s began, KKL began to open its forests to the public. KKL’s forests were planted not just for ecological reasons, but for the enjoyment of all Israelis.
1968 - In 1968, JNF Canada was established as an independent Canadian charity. Its early work focused on forestry (and through this activity, employment of indigent labourers). JNF Canada utilized KKL as its agent to advance its charitable objectives.
1970-90s - Through the 1970s, 80s and 90s JNF Canada expanded beyond afforestation activities, responding to Israel’s acute water shortage through the construction of water reservoirs, capturing rainwater run-off, to supplement the scarce freshwater available.
2000s - In the early 2000s, JNF Canada identified that along with environmental, there was also a need for charitable social service infrastructure in Israel. As the population grew dramatically, there was an increased need for a variety of resources in the peripheral areas of the country.  Although Israel’s GDP was growing, Israel’s new found success was benefitting mainly the centre of the country and not equally reaching those living in remote places. JNF Canada’s leadership expanded its partnerships beyond KKL to a variety of Israeli charities that demonstrated real impact.