Jul 18, 2017  By Lauren France  Category: Education,

Israel trip leaves millennial hopeful as ever about her generation

The author planting a tree in Israel with JNF. 

Millennials get a bad rap. People write off my generation as lazy, entitled, and obsessed with social media. Sure, that last one might be true, but what I've learned in my four years as national chair of JNFuture, working alongside hundreds of my fellow "babies of the '80s," is that we are so much more than the stereotype. 

As chair of JNFuture, I had the privilege of serving as co-chair of the young professional track on the JNF 50th Anniversary of Jerusalem's Reunification Mission. After leading 31 other participants on a week-long tour of Israel, I am more encouraged than ever at the power of the millennial generation and the power of the Internet.

Lauren France with JNF CEO Russell Robinson and mission co-chair Stephanie Kelman. 
As the first few days of the trip unfolded and we visited the Be’er Sheva River Park, witnessed a ribbon cutting of the new medical center in Halutza, and met with patients at Aleh Negav-Nahalat Eran, I was astounded at how quickly my fellow participants were connecting with the work of JNF, the land of Israel, and the great people that make up this organization. 

We used numerous hashtags to track our journey on Facebook, Instagram, and more and within days we were populating newsfeeds everywhere. I even surprised myself with my daily (sometimes two or three a day) posts. My goal was to share with my universe of friends and family the incredible experiences I was having, while also hoping to inspire others to get involved in Jewish National Fund and JNFuture.
Visiting JNF's 9/11 memorial. 

As Shabbat came and went and our trip wrapped up in Tel Aviv, I was already scrolling through posts from earlier in the week, feeling nostalgic for our jeep tour in the Ramon Crater or overlapping with other tracks at the 9/11 memorial and at the Western Wall. I’m not one for emotional posts, but as I boarded my flight home, I felt compelled to share the following:

“One last post as I board my flight home to DC! I'm incredibly grateful to Jewish National Fund and JNFuture for giving me an even deeper connection to the land and people of Israel and providing me with yet another opportunity to lead, learn and develop deep and meaningful friendships. We ended our trip today (my eighth to Israel, fourth with JNF) by planting a tree to continue the tradition of caring for the land and healing the world through tikkun olam. My week on #JNFJLM50 was unforgettable and I leave renewed, refreshed and excited to continue our work in the US.The only thing missing was my incredible and supportive husband Nelson but I'm on my way home my love!”

It’s funny how a week can feel like a lifetime, and now we have the pictures and posts to help us stay connected long after we’ve come home and gone back to our daily lives. Even now, weeks later, I'm still clicking through the photos and posts on Facebook and thinking of more ways to share my story and encourage others to do the same.  

Through the whole journey on Jerusalem 50, I was reminded of the power of my generation. We may have our heads in our phones and obsess over photo filters and hashtags, but when we share those moments and spread the word of our work in Israel, we are bringing more people into the JNFuture family. Each "like" or comment helps us share our passion further, louder, and in real time. 

I invite you to check out Facebook and Instagram posts with the hashtag #JNFJLM50 to experience not just my journey, but that of 31 other proud and passionate young leaders who are the future of Jewish National Fund.

The group of 31 young professionals planting trees at Neot Kedumim.