Monthly News from JNF-USA’s Advocacy & Education Department

Happy Summer, Educators!


While classes are slowing down, the Israel Advocacy and Education team at Jewish National Fund-USA is busy preparing for Fall programs, which will be here sooner than you think! In fact, this is the last week to sign up to host a 9/11 ceremony in your community. Did you know JNF-USA’s 9/11 Living Memorial in Jerusalem is the only memorial outside the U.S. that features the names of all the of the victims who perished in the attacks? Sign up here to honor your local firemen with a beautiful plaque this September 11th.

The Israel Advocacy and Education Team

Jewish National Fund-USA

D’var Torah

Parashat Naso, B'midbar/Numbers, 4:21-7:89 

An Ancient Text that Links Us to the Land

AND the Power of Learning


By Rick Abrams, Israel Programs Admissions Director, NJ & Eastern PA

Dvar Torah



Learning Hebrew, attending Shabbat and weekday T’filot, and attending our community building and educational programs -- these are the ways we want our students and families to engage in our schools. The goal: they will learn the curriculum we establish and immerse themselves in the ocean of our Jewish texts and traditions.


We get a hint on an ancient method used to teach some very famous words in this week’s Torah portion:  (B’midbar, 6: 22-27). These words have been a part of our worship and culture for more years that we may realize.


וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃

22) The Eternal spoke to Moses:

דַּבֵּ֤ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶל־בָּנָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֥ה תְבָרְכ֖וּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אָמ֖וֹר לָהֶֽם׃{ס}

23) Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them:

יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃{ס}

24) The Eternal bless you and protect you!

יָאֵ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃{ס}

25) The Eternal shine God’s face upon you and deal graciously with you!

יִשָּׂ֨א יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃{ס}

26) The Eternal lift up God’s face towards you, and grant you peace!

וְשָׂמ֥וּ אֶת־שְׁמִ֖י עַל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַאֲנִ֖י אֲבָרְכֵֽם׃{ס}

27) Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them.


Some of us may have these verses, particularly verses 24-26, memorized. For me, they were used to bless my children (and whenever they’re home) every Friday night. That’s correct, its the Priestly Benediction.


These words provides so many and varied teachings: from the 3-5-7 words in each of the successive verses, the fact that the Reverend Billy Grahm used them in President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, to the use of God’s The Eternal name and (not the “God” name), and more.  However, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (z’l) said summarized it best:


“Protection, grace, peace: these are God's blessings, communicated by the priests. We are what we pray for. If you seek to understand a people, look at its prayers. The Jewish people did not ask for wealth or power. They did not hunger after empire. They had no desire to conquer or convert the world. They asked for protection, the right to live true to themselves without fear; for grace, the ability to be an agent for good in others; and peace, that fullness of being in which each of us brings our individual gifts to the common good. That is all our ancestors prayed for, and it is still all we need.”

From "The Priestly Blessings: Protection, Grace, and Peace"


So, according to the words in this benediction, we get “Protection, Grace and Peace.” If there was one other thing that Judaism asks for, it would be learning.


Our morning liturgy include blessings for our minds, our students, and our teachers all before this prayer for peace. This shows the power of learning and teaching!


What’s more, something I learned about these verses truly changed my thinking about this power, and the connection between learning and Jerusalem. And I learned it from a former Israel Studies instructor in the Alexander Muss High School in Israel.











In 1979, a necklace (like these pictured) was discovered in an excavated burial cave at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem. Inscribed in early Hebrew, on the rolled up tiny scrolls are the words of the Priestly Benediction! The words on the necklace served as a protective amulet for the dead. The inscriptions were written in a cursive style by a non-professional scribe, dated around 650 BCE! That predates the oldest of the Dead Sea scrolls from Qumran by almost 400 years, as the Dead Sea Scrolls are from 408 BCE to 318 CE.


So, this necklace shows that during the First Temple Period, ancient Israelites used these verses from this week’s Torah portion in their worship and life cycle events.


Yes, the power of our texts, our connections, and our blessings from God are strong. And educators like YOU are blessings as well. Thank you for all you do to engage, motivate, inspire, challenge, and lead all of your students.


Alexander Muss High School in Israel is celebrating its 50th birthday. That’s celebrating 50 years of inspiring and educating students, connecting them to their Judaism through traveling the land itself, seeing history before their eyes. If you want to learn more and find out how you can be a part of the celebration, click here. To ensure more students get the chance to explore their roots and study abroad on this amazing program, donate to AMHSI’s endowment fund here.


In The East: A Story of Polish Jews in Soviet Gulags

By Mikhal Dekel


In the East


In The East, published by W.W. Norton in 2021, is the first comprehensive history of Polish Jews who died in Soviet gulags or survived them to become refugees in Central Asia and the Middle East, This virtually unknown history should be included in Holocaust studies.


Learn more about this fascinating story, described by Mikhal Dekel in In The East, here.

Synagogue Missions: Come Home for a Visit!

Synagogue Tours

Jewish National Fund-USA is spearheading the return of tourists to Israel through a $1.6 million initiative that provides synagogues and temple congregations with a $500 subsidy per participant to visit Israel. In partnership with Kenes Tours, the program, Come Home for a Visit: Bring your Synagogue to Israel is available through JNF Travel & Tours.


You choose your own destinations, your own hotels, and your own tour guides. Trips must be 5 days minimum on the ground, with one day dedicated to Jewish National Fund-USA sites. All participating rabbis must be members of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Rabbis for Israel.

For Teens: Earn Up to $7,500 for a Semester in Israel

dream israel



Applications are open to study abroad in Israel for Fall and Spring semesters, PLUS you could earn a $7,500 grant through Dream Israel!


Dream Israel helps American high school students take the Israel trip of their dreams. By fundraising for a Jewish National Fund-USA project, teens attending Alexander Muss High School in Israel and other qualifying programs are eligible for up to $7,500 in grants on qualifying study abroad programs.


It’s simple: select a trip provider, pick a project, meet the fundraising goal for the select trip, and receive a grant!


Learn more at


We Want to Hear From You!

The Education Team would like to know how we can better serve you. Please fill out this survey so we can get to know you and your needs.


As always, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] with questions, comments, or just to say hello!