Jun 7, 2021  By David Eisenberg  Category: Blueprint Negev,

It started with a simple question about a bike ride in Israel

My Jewish National Fund-USA story started in 1988, when my stepfather, Rabbi Morris Gordon, was honored by JNF-USA in Washington D.C. Retired General Al Haig was the featured speaker, and the proceeds went toward planting trees outside of Jerusalem. It was a memorable evening and it left me hungry to learn more about Jewish National Fund-USA.

Fast-forward 15 years to 2003, when I found myself on the board of Solomon Schechter Day School in Boston.  A fellow board member came to me one day with a simple question, "Do I remember correctly that you’re into cycling and that you feel strongly about Israel?" Yes, I answered. So, he invited me to join him on a bike ride that he was starting called Israel Ride.

It would be two more years before I was able to register, but when I did, I saw I had the option to join Team JNF. Knowing some of JNF-USA's history and role in the founding of modern Israel, I quickly checked the box. That was the beginning of two wonderful journeys -- first, on the 2005 Israel Ride. I fell in love with biking in Israel and with the work the Israel Ride supports at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. I have been fortunate to return to the Israel Ride and Team JNF every year since 2007.  Second, having signed up for Team JNF, I quickly got a call from JNF-USA National Campaign Director, Sharon Joy, inviting me into the JNF-USA family.

I have never looked back on either commitment. It started with a simple "ask" back in 2003: "Would I like to go for a bike ride in Israel?" Both Jewish National Fund-USA and the Israel Ride have been an integral part of my life ever since.

Author David Eisenberg is on Jewish National Fund-USA's New England board. To find out more information about Israel Ride and Team JNF, click here.