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JNF Wire: Philadelphia Resident Begins New Life in Israel

December 16, 2015
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
212-879-9305 x222
Philadelphia Resident Begins New Life in Israel
Emanuel Goss.png      
Emanuel Goss and Yoel Rosby at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem.

It was love at first sight.  Emanuel Goss had never been to Israel before, but after spending a semester there in the 11th grade, he knew he wanted to make aliyah. Now that the 26-year-old former Philadelphia resident has realized his dream, he is at work on another one:  He wants to become a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  

“I went to Akiba Hebrew Academy [now Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy], but took a semester off to attend the Alexander Muss High School in Israel,” said Goss, referring to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) study abroad program for American high school students located in Hod HaSharon. “After finishing at Akiba, I came back to Israel for a year through Young Judea and wanted to stay, but my parents convinced me to come home for college,” said Goss, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University.     

After spending two years in the workforce, Goss led a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, and in February 2015, returned to Israel with the intention of staying for a few months to volunteer. His father, JNF Philadelphia Board Member Chuck Goss, asked JNF CEO Russell F. Robinson if he knew of any meaningful volunteer opportunities for his son in Israel, and Robinson contacted Yoel Rosby, JNF’s liaison at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem.   

One of many Israeli national memorial and heritage sites supported by JNF, Ammunition Hill is where Goss’s family is involved in a project to build an overlook that will pay tribute to the soldiers who defended and liberated Mt. Scopus, a Jewish enclave surrounded by Jordanian forces, during the Six-Day War in 1967. In 2008, JNF erected a Wall of Honor at Ammunition Hill to commemorate all Jewish soldiers. What started with only 15 plaques, today it contains the names of 333 men and women inscribed on it. 

“Fierce fighting took place here between Israeli paratroopers and Jordanian forces,” Rosby explained. “Israelis consider Ammunition Hill a symbol of heroism because of the moral code and values with which the paratroopers fought, the same code and values with which Jews around the world fought for their countries of residence. This is why any Jewish service man or woman, anywhere in the world, has the right to be honored here.”  

Rosby suggested that Goss help with creating an internet database of the names on the Wall of Honor to enable visitors to Ammunition Hill’s web site to learn more about the honorees. “Yoel wants people to be able to connect to each plaque in a personal way,” Goss said.  

Goss accepted the challenge and began the project in March. Throughout his time at Ammunition Hill, he met regularly with the many people who worked there, including its CEO, Lt. Col. Katri Maoz, who served as deputy brigade commander of the 55th Paratrooper Brigade, and the director of marketing, Major Alon Vald, who served in an elite IDF unit and also in the Shabak, Israel’s security agency. These and other IDF veterans, as well as the stories he collected for each plaque, made a lasting impression on him.  

“It was the most incredible thing for me to meet these heroes. People who risked their lives for others yet don’t see themselves as heroes,” said Goss, whose experience working with the soldiers directly influenced his decision to make aliyah just three months into the project.  

It also inspired him to want to be a paratrooper, and although he will have to try out and knows there is no guarantee he’ll be admitted, Goss has been preparing by participating in a pre-army training program for lone soldiers, called Tzevet Lochamim (the Fighters Group). 

“The first two months after my draft I’ll be taking an intensive Hebrew course.  After that I try out, and will be transferred to whichever combat unit I get into,” he explained.   

Goss was originally scheduled to report for duty this coming April, but in early December he received a call asking if he would be interested in moving up his draft date to December 15. He couldn’t have been happier.  With his project nearly complete, Goss jumped at the chance and accepted. 

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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


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