A Jewish National Fund Special Report First 100 Days
Dr. Sol Lizerbram
For inspiration, I looked back at the first 100 days of David Ben Gurion. Who of us could fathom the great responsibility that rested on his shoulders?
It was in the early moments of his leadership, at 4:00 pm, on a Friday afternoon, just prior to Shabbat, that he gathered among him at the Tel Aviv Art Museum representatives of the nation-to- be who for 2,000 years, had been denied the land as part of their physical existence. Ben Gurion stood up, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, read the Declaration of Independence, recited the Shehecheyanu, and declared Israel’s official existence for the Jewish people everywhere.
Of course, we know that declaration brought about the War of Independence, but the cause had purpose. For decades, Jews the world over had been purchasing land in Israel through Jewish National Fund, and because of those millions of coins collected in JNF Blue Boxes, we possessed the original bill of sale that gave birth to our Jewish nation.
This April, we will commemorate 70 years since that Friday afternoon. As President of Jewish National Fund, I know that each of us today are just as committed to holding dear, fighting for, and building the land of Israel for the Jewish people everywhere, as we were then.
My only regret is that there are so many who came before us who did not have the opportunity to share in these defining moments. While Jewish National Fund celebrates 117 years as an organization, Israel is only 70. Can you imagine if Israel was also celebrating its 117th birthday? How strong and unified we would be if that was the case. Perhaps one million, two million, or even six million more Jews and their descendants would be among us.
As modern builders in our homeland, we now have the awesome responsibility to do more than just talk or rest on our past laurels. As caretakers of the land for the Jewish people everywhere, we have an obligation to engage, educate, involve, and to do. That is what Jewish National Fund is all about. We are doers!
In the next paragraphs, I am going to offer recaps of the unbelievable work that has been done across the United States by people who have stood up and said, “Count on me.” If you have not already done so, please make sure to attend an event, meet a visiting partner from Israel, or make a gift.
On Giving Tuesday, we witnessed some of the highest engagement held by this or any organization, not only in the dollars raised, but in the amount of people who decided to donate to Jewish National Fund. In a single day we raised $1.3 million via our website, e-mails, social media, events and one- on-one solicitations! We had around 1,400 donations and 142 new donors (who had never before given to us).
In Boston, MA, in a room that only held 500 people maximum, a sold-out crowd at a Breakfast for Israel made way for SRO attendees. Boston has and continues to be one of the strong backbones of our Jewish
National Fund-USA campaign. From Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, Florida, New Jersey, New York, everywhere, we are seeing our people coming out, standing up, and saying, “Count on me.”
Among those raising their hands and making donations are the young members of our fastest growing campaign segment, JNFuture. Now counting more than 1,100 between the ages of 22-40, I can emphatically say that no other organization has seen such resounding growth among this key demographic.
Many thousands of happy travelers have experienced Israel with us on our trips and hundreds are signing up right now: for our unique Sunshine Tour: For Active Adults 55+; the JNFuture Volunteer Vacation; informative Israel H20 Water Tour, and the upcoming [email protected] Tours that have several distinct tracks.
Taglit-Birthright Israel has increased its eligibility to the age of 32, and our trips through Shorashim increase in size each year. In 2017, we sent 65 buses and are aiming now for 100. Our $100 million Boruchin Center concentrates on Israel engagement and continues to fund and perform exceptional educational programming with renowned partners, making a real impact on college campuses. Our Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel and Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission to Israel have become the recognized models for taking non-Jewish college professors and students to Israel so they can see for themselves what we know as Positively Israel. In 2017, 38 college and university campuses hosted 94 JNF Positively Israel events and speakers. Last year 134 students experienced life-changing Alternative Break programs in Israel and the trips continue to sell out.
Alexander Muss High School in Israel is filled to capacity. While we once struggled to maintain our numbers, today we are planning the building of our second campus in Be’er Sheva, the Negev’s capital city. This multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facility will serve as a first class institution and operate in tandem with our current and historic Hod HaSharon campus. Our goal is for 5,000 high school students to annually visit Israel with us, with each returning home a more engaged and active member of the Jewish community. During their lifetimes, we can agree that will realize a good return on investment.
As I move forward to my second 100 days, I keep in sight those defining moments before me and those who have helped bring me to this place: those brave Zionists who played a part in the War of Independence; our friends and neighbors who some 30 years ago marched in Washington and demanded freedom for Jews in the former Soviet Union; the Jewish National Fund donors who raised money during the 1967 and 1973 wars; and the many thousands who have made aliyah and today call Israel home.
Ours is not a story about a people in exile, or how we survived war and struggle, nor the many attempts to eliminate the State of Israel. I am convinced the future looks good for the Jewish people. As a community, and, as a people, we are stronger than ever before. As it has in every generation before us, our story continues to evolve and go on. Our work as the caretakers of the land of Israel is now focused on building upon the strength and unity of the Jewish people, and making our homeland better for all who call it their home—our home.
On this incredible journey has been my partner in life, Lauren, who is with me every step of the way. No good work is done without the concerted efforts of a great team. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful lay leaders and our professional staff who work every day on the front lines with our partners in Israel, on the phones across the U.S. talking to our donors, and behind the scenes to make everything run so smoothly—you make it happen!
I thank you for the privilege to serve as president of this great organization and for making my first 100 days so memorable. I look ahead with much optimism as we continue to go forward together.
Dr. Sol Lizerbram
First 100 Days
BUILDING A STRONG FOUNDATION of any organization begins with reassuring its key stakeholders that every measure is taken to safeguard nances, compliance, pro tability, and reputation. Please take a look at what has been achieved below.
- An Administration and Compliance Committee was appointed by President Dr. Sol Lizerbram with Co-Chairs Bruce K. Gould, Esq., Sam Goldberg, and Harold Kaplan, Esq. to establish a formal review and update of Jewish National Fund’s Constitution, Staff Manual, Corporate Policy, Incorporation Document, and Directors and Officers Insurance.
- A leadership seminar held at National Conference included more than 125 national and local lay leaders from across the country, with a workshop led by IDF Maj. Gen. Bentzi Gruber.
- In December, the Israel Relations Committee(IRC) announced they are working with all Task Force Chairs to help facilitate strategic fundraising goals while assessing how task forces can work better together. In January, the IRC went to Israel to visit the sites and observe the work they oversee.
- Thanks to the probono work of Baruch Fellner, Esq. ,JNF Assistant Vice President, Governmental Relations, and a Gibson Dunn law team, we are in the final stages of creating a “White Paper” to formally respond to false assertions in the media about JNF.
Board of Directors and Board of Trustees
- JNF’s Legal Committee, under the leadership of Vice President Robert Wigoda, Esq., continues to work on a number of contractual and legal affairs on behalf of JNF-USA. And, it is with great sadness we report the untimely passing of our Assistant Vice President Legal Committee and member of the Board of Directors and Trustees Ellen Rosenberg, Esq. Ellen was a cherished leader, colleague, and dear friend.
- Community Presidents conference calls, under the leadership of Vice President Communities and Regions Michael Blank, continue on a bi-monthly basis. Meetings focus on Community Presidents and their roles as leaders of local Boards.
- The Ronald S. Lauder Jewish National Fund House continues to serve as a great venue for community meetings, and recently hosted the Israeli Consulate of New York’s Chanukah party.
- Jewish National Fund secured its fourth Homeland Security grant to upgrade security at the Ronald S. Lauder JNF House.
MAKING THE INVESTMENT IN OUR WORKstarts with a robust campaign and professional sta to execute the vision. Unlike any other philanthropic organization today, Jewish National Fund donors invest in nation building by designating where to invest, serving on task forces and witnessing up close the realization and completion of each project.
- $30 million raised in first 100 days, bringing the campaign toward our $1 billion goal to $491 million.
- Record setting attendance at JNF’s National Conference with more than 1,200 participants.
- More than 3,200 people collectively attended 161 events in 42 cities across the United States, raising $1.2 million.
- JNF is developing one of the most robust onboarding and continuing education training programs for its Professional team. In January, Jewish National Fund held its first ever “JNF University” training program with 60 participants. Taking part were fundraisers, Center of Excellence, Directors and event management staff. We’ve developed an on-line Learning Management System Video Training program to provide new and veteran employees with the necessary tools and information to perform their respective organizational roles
- $10 million raised in the first 100 days, which includes nearly 400 new Chai Society and over 750 Sapphire Society members.
- A “Women’sCampaign” manual has been created and sent to every regional Chair, detailing activities around the country, and sharing best practices. This working document will be added to throughout the year and serves as a great tool to encourage growth. Feedback from JNF regions implementing it is now in review with local committees.
- A special women’s event at National Conference offered a session with public speaking trainer Ron Nehring on ‘How to Make the Ask.’
- Over 150 Sapphire Society and Chai Society women attended a National Conference luncheon with former Miss Israel, Titi Aynaw
- $520,000 raised in first 100 days.
- More than 60 events have been held across the country so far, including Fall kick offs, Giving Tuesday, and Chanukah.
- During Tu BiShvat, in partnership with the AEPi fraternity, Jewish National Fund engaged young adults on 150 college campuses and school programs in hundreds of communities.
- 20 events planned in the coming months.
- Over 10 communities have held or will hold a JNFuture Board retreat in the first six months of this campaign year.
- In March, the 3rd Annual JNFuture Leadership Institute Summit will run concurrent with Major Donor weekend in Phoenix, AZ.
- 25 JNFutures participated in the 4th JNFuture Volunteer Vacation in late December/early January.
GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT about what Jewish National Fund does to better the land and people of Israel relies on personal interaction via multiple platforms, like podcasts, YouTube, and other social media. All across the U.S. local communities get to meet the individuals directly responsible for carrying out our work and everyone can easily access our real-time messaging online.
- Since October, Jewish National Fund’s Speakers Bureau has secured speakers at over 100 events (attended by thousands of donors and the public). They range from intimate parlor meetings and synagogue engagements to community breakfasts and gala dinners.
- Featured speakers included Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jonathan Medved, Chloe Valdary and Joel Chasnoff.
- The Speakers Bureau is developing an [email protected] Marketing Plan to bring speakers to synagogues, JCCs, and other organizations particularly around Yom Ha’atzmaut, featuring Titi Aynaw (Miss Israel), Alon Ben Gurion, journalist Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, among others, to promote Jewish National Fund to the wider community.
Social Media and Digital Impressions
- Since October, our podcast, IsraelCast, has tracked 5,300 downloads.
- 200,000 minutes watched and over 150,000 views on YouTube.
- 150,000 impressions on Twitter, 80,000 minutes viewed and 225,000 video views on Facebook.
- Over 3 million impressions through search advertisements on search engines Google and Bing.
SEEING OUR WORK personally is the only way to understand the magnitude of what we do. Nobody knows Israel better than Jewish National Fund, and taking part on one of our trips is the best way to see Israel and her people.
Missions & Tours
- Since October, 200 people traveled to Israel on our mission and tours.
- Since October, an additional 215 donors took customized trips with us and visited Jewish National Fund sites, some to take part in unique donor dedications.
- 60 people joined our weekly bus tour to the northern Negev.
Thank you for all that you do for the land and people of Israel.
Millions of lives are better now because of your passion, your time, and your resources. Behind every one of the statistics listed above are countless stories. Your support has benefited them greatly and, in the coming months we will continue to demonstrate how your support makes a major difference in our land, our people, our Israel.