Why Israel Is My First Trip and It Should Be Yours Too!

By Debbie Kornberg, San Diego Board President Jewish National Fund-USA


Debbie Kornberg headshot (courtesy JNF-USA)


It has been a long and difficult year. As we look back on these last 13+ months, we recognize the many challenges we have overcome and the accomplishments we have achieved in the silver linings. We’ve learned to adjust to new academic and work environments. We have settled for virtual gatherings including social hours and Jewish holidays even when we could not be together in person. We reimagined our religious services, creating new pathways to daven (pray) and celebrate Jewish life cycle events. We, as a Jewish community, do not shy away from adversity. We take what is given to us and find meaningful solutions to the difficult realities we face. It is through these adversities that we make brilliant new discoveries that will stay with us for generations to come.


Here in San Diego, Jewish National Fund–USA is no different.


When the pandemic hit and we were in lockdown, there was obviously no more travel, and certainly no way to visit Israel. But this did not stop Dr. Sol Lizerbram, JNF-USA National President and First Lady, Lauren Lizerbram. In the beginning of May 2020, they decided if we can’t go there in person, they were going to create the first ever virtual trip to Israel. Through hardship comes creativity and ingenuity. Sol and Lauren Lizerbram, in partnership with JNF-USA’s professional team, created a whole new model for experiencing Israel. Not only that, but they were able to support the tourism industry in Israel by having Israeli tour guides conduct the virtual tours. JNF-USA discovered a brand new way to experience Israel even when we could not be there in person. People who had never been to Israel before were now able to see the sights, meet Israelis in real-time and almost smell the aromas of the open air shuk (market).  Being able to virtually see and connect with Israel, our homeland of the Jewish people, was extremely meaningful. I am proud to say JNF-USA has brought more than 7,000 people on virtual tours of Israel and over 400 of them were from San Diego.


There is no doubt San Diego is passionate about Israel! We support Israel in so many different ways but of course the best way to show our enduring love of our Jewish homeland is to travel there… in person! Israel needs us now more than ever. So much of the economy relies on the tourist industry and we are a part of that narrative. As we begin to reunite with loved ones, family and our Jewish community, let’s travel to Israel together as one people, Am Yisrael Chai.


Join me at this year’s JNF-USA National Conference in Israel, October 10 – 14, 2021. We will see first-hand how Israel is leading the way in agricultural and water technology, and creating places of inclusion for special needs in the Israeli army. Discover how JNF-USA is leading the way in global cuisine by building The Galilee Culinary Institute which will dramatically expand the population and infrastructure in the most Northern parts of Israel. In the South, JNF-USA supports Israel in the Gaza including our sister community of Sha’ar HaNegev and is also establishing an Israel Education and Technology Campus in Beer Sheva.


Over 70 years ago, David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir travelled to the United States asking us for our support. I believe if they were alive today, they would be proud to know that we continue to answer their call and stand with Israel. I hope you will join me and the 20+ San Diegans who have already registered to travel to Israel with JNF-USA for an unprecedented conference on wheels that will take us from the lush Galilee to the majestic Negev desert.


You can find more information, including an itinerary, at www.jnf.org/nc.


Should you have any questions about the Conference in Israel, please feel free to reach out to me directly at SDPresident@jnf.org.

read more close