JNF Wire: Hal Linden and the 2014 Sunshine Mission to Israel
Adam H. Brill
Director of Communications
Hal Linden and the 2014 Sunshine Mission to Israel
By: Rivkah Lambert Adler
On the same day that Jewish National Fund (JNF)’s 2014 Sunshine Mission was visiting Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill, hundreds of Israeli schoolchildren were also visiting the site to learn about the historic battle for the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. Although the schoolchildren weren’t born until decades later, the participants of the Sunshine Mission, active seniors 55 and older, were alive to witness the dramatic Six Day War.
For many of the 40 Sunshine Mission participants being able to travel with Hal Linden (stage and screen actor, director, musician and JNF’s national spokesperson), was a powerful incentive to come to Israel with JNF. Although Linden’s mother kept a kosher kitchen, he described his father as a “two-time a year Jew” who was, nonetheless, a passionate Zionist. In 1912, Linden’s father co-founded The Order Sons of Zion, a Zionist support organization. In 1944, the group changed its name to B’nai Zion and remains active today. Despite having a fervently Zionist father, Linden grew up a staunch assimilationist. “As a child, I was friends with all the Italian and Irish kids in our Bronx neighborhood,” said Linden. “I didn’t believe there was a need for a state for Jews. World War II changed my position on that.”
In the 1970s, while starring in the TV show Barney Miller, Linden first visited the young State of Israel. Barney Miller wasn’t screened on Israeli TV, but when he met then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Prime Minister’s wife Aliza confessed that she watched the show on Jordanian TV. After his first trip to Israel, Linden provided decades of devoted support to many Jewish organizations, performing in hundreds of benefits for JNF and other Jewish organizations.
In 1997, JNF recruited Linden to become their national spokesperson. After completing his second tour of Israel and being impressed with the range of JNF’s projects, Linden readily agreed to serve. Linden’s wife, Fran Martin, z”l, who passed away in 2010, was so fascinated with the breadth of JNF’s work on behalf of Israel that she became a founding member of the Sapphire Society, JNF’s major gift division for women.
Water conservation projects are especially close to Linden’s heart. He dedicated a reservoir in the Jordan River in his father’s memory. Fifteen years ago, he starred in a JNF campaign featuring his then-one year-old grandchild putting a coin into a JNF Blue Box. The campaign’s slogan was, “Your parents planted the trees. It’s up to you to water them.”
In September, Linden will be attending the JNF National Conference in Los Angeles along with hundreds of American Jews, California Governor Jerry Brown and dignitaries from Israel. He will also be participating in a session on the connections between Hollywood and Israel.
First-time visitor to Israel, Andrew Halperin, an attorney from Red Hook, NY, joined the Sunshine Mission with his son Jason Halperin, also an attorney from Westchester, NY. The elder Halperin felt that the Sunshine Mission was the ideal trip for experienced travelers and first-timers. He especially enjoyed learning about JNF’s involvement in oil, gas and water issues and the potential of the Leviathan Gas Field to change the political reality of Israel’s relationship with Turkey and Egypt.
The most experienced Israel travelers on the mission were Jeff and Deby Goodman, who estimate that they have been to Israel at least a dozen times each. Regarding their family connection to JNF, Deby joked, “We bleed blue and white.” Like Linden’s wife, Deby is a Sapphire Society member, and Jeff is the founding president of the Orange County board of JNF. According to Jeff, “JNF affects the lives of every Israeli every day. Too many people don’t yet know the expanse of what JNF does in Israel, so, as a 3rd generation JNF volunteer, I speak on behalf of the organization through the Makor Speakers Bureau.”
Participants Viviane and Stuart Koenig came to Israel on their honeymoon in June 1971, just four years after Viviane and her parents narrowly escaped from her native Egypt and two weeks after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War. After donating what she estimates to be hundreds of trees through JNF, the couple chose to return to Israel on the 2014 Sunshine Mission both to celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary and to have the opportunity to travel with Hal Linden.
For more information about future Sunshine Missions, please call 877-JNF-TOUR (563-8687) or email email@example.com.
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.
For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.