When Jewish National Fund (JNF) approached David Eisenberg to be honored with the Guardian of Israel award, he knew he wanted the event to benefit an organization close to his heart: the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Proceeds from the brunch will enable the construction of an outdoor classroom on the Kibbutz Ketura campus in memory of David’s nephew, Guy Bar-Yosef.
“I was nominated for the Guardian of Israel Award shortly after Guy passed last August, a few days after his 40th birthday,” shared Eisenberg, who has been involved with JNF for over 30 years. “He was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia in 2013, about the same time as I had been diagnosed, and, even though we were an ocean apart, I felt connected to his fight. He never lost faith even until the last day that he would make it through. His rock-solid faith and incredible support from his family are an inspiration to me.”
Guy, a beloved tour guide in Israel, felt a special connection to Kibbutz Ketura, where the Arava Institute is located. His mother, Arlene, went to Israel on a Young Judea trip as a teenager and eventually made Aliyah and raised three kids in Israel. Guy always tried to bring tourists to the Kibbutz, which was founded by Young Judea graduates, even though it is off the beaten path of popular tourist sites, to expose them to the true Kibbutz lifestyle of communal living. When he passed away, he left behind a wife and five beautiful children. He was remembered fondly by people who had used him as a guide, fellow guides, soldiers he served with in the army, schoolmates from decades ago, and of course, his uncle.
Eisenberg, a partner at Mercer Investments, serves on JNF’s New England Executive Board of Directors, is Vice Chair of the Arava Institute & Hazon Israel Ride and sits on the Board of Trustees of Friends of the Arava Institute.
“I’m honored to be recognized with the Guardian of Israel Award,” said Eisenberg. “I agreed to this honor way before this summer’s war; however, the war was a huge reminder of the importance of the work of both Jewish National Fund and Friends of the Arava Institute, and building trust and compassion on both sides of the conflict. This honor is very exciting and I am so proud of the huge success we’ve had in growing the Israel Ride over the last few years, which is the single largest fundraiser for the Arava Institute. This is actually the perfect time to bridge fundraising for Jewish National Fund and the critical work they do in Israel, and the Arava Institute and the incredible work they do in building intercultural bridges.”
The Arava Institute, a JNF partner, is a world-class teaching and research center that offers a unique approach to studying the environmental challenges of the Middle East. With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, and people from countries throughout the world, it provides students with the rare opportunity to live and learn together and allows them to build networks and develop trust, understanding, and friendships that will enable future cooperative work and activism in the Middle East and beyond. JNF’s partnership with the Arava Institute provides student scholarships and supports the creation of new dormitories, classrooms, and other facilities on the state-of-the-art campus. In addition, a JNF team participates in the Hazon & Israel Ride, an annual bike ride to raise money for the Arava Institute. Eisenberg will participate for the ninth year on the Ride as part of Team JNF.
Jewish National Fund’s Guardian of Israel Award Brunch will take place on Sunday, September 21, 2014 at the Horticultural Center at Elm Bank at 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA. The brunch will begin at 10:00 am; there will be a 9:15 am walking tour of the botanical gardens prior to the event. Please visit jnf.org/negoi to register. For sponsorship opportunities or more information, please contact JNF Director Sara Hefez at 617.423.0999 x811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.