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Fred and Shari Schenk to be Honored at JNF Tree of Life Award™ Dinner

Muslim Author and Middle East Expert Speaks on Behalf of Israel

Contact: Batsheva Feldman • JNF San Diego Community Director • (858) 824-9178 •

September 12, 2006 -- San Diego, CA  -- On Saturday, November 18th, Jewish National Fund (JNF) will pay tribute to one of San Diego’s most outstanding couples when the Tree of Life Award™ is bestowed on Fred and Shari Schenk at the Hilton Torrey Pines Hotel.
The Tree of Life Award™ is a humanitarian award given in recognition of outstanding community involvement, dedication to the cause of American-Israeli friendship, and devotion to peace and security of human life. The award honors leaders for their achievements and innovations in industry, government and education.  Past recipients include Linda Bennett, Dr. Joshua Cohen, Claire Ellman, Dr. Greg Heinzinger, Gert Thaler, and Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman.
Author and public speaker Nonie Darwish, a staunch supporter of Israel and a rare voice in the Arab world, will keynote the dinner.
Born in Egypt and raised in Gaza, Darwish grew up in an atmosphere of intense hatred for Israel and severe anti-Semitism.  Her father was the head of the Fedayeen, the first organized Arab terrorist group that conducted guerilla-style operations against Israel. 

In 1956, when she was only eight years old, Darwish’s father was assassinated by Israeli commando forces.  After his death, he was recognized as a martyr and a national hero in the fight against Israel. 

After moving back to Egypt with her family and studying at the American University of Cairo, Darwish relocated to the United States in 1978.  She began to actively reject the culture of jihad in which she was raised and the hatred it fostered, realizing that it had led to the death of her father.  Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, she began to write in support of Israel and against radical Islam, founding the website Arabs for Israel.   
Proceeds from the evening will benefit Blueprint Negev, JNF’s initiative to develop the Negev Desert for an additional 250,000 residents over the next five years. 

“Jewish National Fund is proud to honor Fred and Shari Schenk with the Tree of Life Award™ ,” said Batsheva Feldman, JNF San Diego Community Director. “They are role models to all, both in their support of Israel and JNF and in their professional, community and personal lives.”

Fred Schenk served as president of the Lawrence Family JCC from 2000 to 2002 and was a founding co-chair of the United Jewish Federation (UJF) Cardozo Society.  He is a past president of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego and sits on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California.  He is also the immediate past president of the Civil Justice Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based organization that awards grants to grassroots consumer advocacy groups working to prevent consumer injuries and preserve the civil justice system. 

In 2002, Fred was appointed by Governor Gray Davis to the board of directors of the 22nd District Agricultural Association (Del Mar Fairboard), a position he held until earlier this year.  During his term, he was vice president of the board.   

For nearly 24 years, Fred has represented thousands of navy sailors, navy shipyard workers and the families of those who have died from asbestos diseases.  From 2002 to 2004, he provided pro-bono legal services through Trial Lawyers Care, an organization that furnishes lawyers to litigate cases on behalf of the victims of 9/11. 

Shari Schenk is a past president of the Agency for Jewish Education and a current board member of the San Diego Jewish Academy and the Lawrence Family JCC, where she chairs the Marketing Committee.  She is a founding co-chair of the Hevrat Tikkun Olam program at the San Diego Jewish Academy -- which organizes community service projects for students in grades K-12 -- and is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Leadership Program.

Shari was appointed by Governor Gray Davis to the California Commission for Economic Development.  She served for nine years on the Women's Division Board of Directors of the UJF and continues to be active in the UJF campaign.

Together, Shari and Fred served on the capital campaign for the current Carmel Valley home of Congregation Beth Am.

The Tree of Life Award™ Dinner is chaired by Dr. Sol and Lauren Lizerbram, Lynn Schenk, and Hugh Friedman.  For more information or to make a reservation, please call Jewish National Fund at 858-824-9178 or email

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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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