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Celebrating Israel’s Past, Present and Future

By: Christina Zlotnick

I just returned from the best trip of my life! I spent nine days on the Spirit of Israel mission with Jewish National Fund, sharing the experience and first-class food and accommodations with a busload of new friends. 

Our trip brought first-timers and those returning, Jews and non-Jews, mixed couples, young and old, and even a couple on their honeymoon! We met political leaders, visited historical and religious sites, explored natural wonders, learned about the country’s economic activities and stopped by several Jewish National Fund project sites. 

My favorite parts of the trip were those spent outdoors, at the Dead Sea, Masada, Ramon Crater, Hula Valley and the beach in Tel Aviv. I was so moving to plant an oak sapling at the Harvey Hertz Ceremonial Tree Planting Center, really driving home my connection to the land.

I find it so impressive that a relatively young country, only the size of New Jersey, with so few natural resources can boast a $100 billion economy eclipsing all of its immediate neighbors combined. Israelis farm the desert with sophisticated agricultural techniques and create thousands of start-up companies, all the while welcoming large numbers of immigrants and defending themselves from frequent attacks by hostile neighbors. I was equally impressed by the wide range of Jewish National Fund projects that develop the land and improve the lives of the people of Israel. 

Before the mission, I was already a member of Jewish National Fund’s Sapphire Society, the major donor division for women who share a special bond through our commitment to Zionism. However, after coming home, I know this mission has reinforced my commitment to Jewish National Fund and has made me a more educated goodwill ambassador. 

On the eve of Israel’s 66th birthday, I am so proud to celebrate, and encourage everyone to take notice of what this small nation has accomplished. Jewish National Fund’s vision is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for all of Israel’s residents and developing the land for future generations. It warms my heart to see the Israeli flag wave across the land, a reminder that the Jewish people have a homeland. May it always be so.

I invite you to join my journey, and to learn more about Jewish National Fund’s work and our missions. For more information, please contact Sara Hefez, New England Director at or 617.423.0999 x811.

Cristina Zlotnick of Amherst, planting a tree in Israel at JNF's Harvey Hertz Ceremonial Tree Planting Center at Neot Kedumim.

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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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