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Spring Breakers Head to Israel

Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 •

March 5, 2010 – New York, NY – If Debbie Karmel is any indication, then Jewish National Fund (JNF) has a winning program on its hands. The recent college graduate is leaving tomorrow night on her 4th consecutive JNF Alternative Spring Break (ASB), a community service trip for college students and young adults, ages 18-30, who spend one week in Israel working and volunteering in communities in the Negev.

“ASB offers a unique experience in Israel unlike any other program I've been on,” said Karmel. “Its purpose is to physically give back to Israel -- to the land and to the people -- and to participate in the overall mitzvah of tikkun olam. The fist year I went on ASB, in 2007, I felt that I had finally given a part of me to Israel, improved it, and made a lasting good impression on the Israelis I worked with. To me, this trumps any other experience.”

Now in its fifth year, JNF’s ASB will be sending nearly 250 hard-working participants to Israel over the next three weeks -- corresponding to the different vacation schedules of the universities -- who are eager to go back and give back.

An incredible opportunity to do what they would not do on an ordinary trip, participants are responsible for raising a minimum of $975, using an easy online program to communicate by email with family and friends. This fundraising component forges a connection of a different sort.

Money raised goes towards JNF’s Blueprint Negev campaign to sustainably develop the Negev Desert and make it home to Israel’s next generation of pioneers. Once the fundraising minimum is met, the program is free, paid for by JNF donors. It has also been supported by grants from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Repair the World Foundation.

ASB participants do everything from painting low-income housing projects to gleaning surplus harvests for needy families to creating urban community gardens for Ethiopian immigrants.

Created as a natural follow-up tool to Birthright Israel, ASB connects participants to Israel through community service projects with lasting effect.
According to a 2007 study commissioned by the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies called “Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel,” travel to Israel is strongly related to Israel attachment among young Jews, and while that first trip makes a tremendous difference, it is those who go to Israel at least twice who feel the deepest connection.

Since its 2006 pilot year, nearly 800 people have participated in ASB—62% of whom are Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni. As JNF CEO Russell F. Robinson likes to say, “Birthright is the appetizer; ASB is the main course.”

“People like Debbie are an endorsement of JNF’s work,” said Robinson. “As part of our Israel Advocacy and Education Department which works to energize, engage and educate this country’s youth -- from pre-K through college -- about Israel, ASB was created to imprint the participants with a lasting connection to the Jewish State. And our formula is working.”

Said Karmel: “With each year’s ASB, I have fallen in love with the land of Israel more and more and I am constantly driven to return to do it all over again. I met incredible people along the way; other Americans who have the same passion for Israel and tikkun olam, new olim to Israel, Jews who have jumpstarted agricultural and environmental organizations in Israel, and of course, the hard workers of JNF. For all of these reasons and more, I am returning for my 4th and final year -- final because I am planning to make aliyah in 2010.”

 For information or to find a participant in your region, contact Jodi Bodner, 212-980-9305 ext. 221 or

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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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