An Exclusive Report from Russell F. Robinson
Jewish National Fund’s incredible donors recognize that the future begins today with a smart investment that will reap immense returns tomorrow. Thanks to major support from the Zusman (Atlanta, GA) and Greenbaum (New York City) families, our
food technology center in Kiryat Shmona is moving forward at great speed. The center’s “accelerator” will draw some of the planet’s largest food companies to Israel’s Upper Eastern Galilee to determine how best to use the region’s fertile land
to help the world eat and live better. The Jewish National Fund International Culinary Institute campus, also located in Kiryat Shmona, will be named in memory of Philadelphia’s Marvin Sukonik, whose presence will be felt for many years to come
as future great chefs come to this little corner of Israel to study, cook, and perfect their culinary talents (fundraising opportunities for the building itself continue). Nearby, thanks to a generous gift from Florida’s Robert Kares, we are
constructing a new regional medical center, which will eventually treat many thousands in the area and beyond. Apropos, as it is projected that the area will welcome 50,000 new jobs when the food technology center is fully built. Those jobs
will bring thousands of people to the area and create a wake of additional economic growth and regional investment.
Jewish National Fund is becoming known for our incredible vision—to create and provide opportunities for people to work and live in the remote areas of Southern and Northern Israel—and population and job growth is expanding to sustain our work in the regions we support. Forty scientists who work at the Arava Research & Development Center’s state‑of‑the‑art laboratory on a myriad of projects, including finding cures for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Alzheimer’s, and cancer, do so because of the generous support of Stephen M. Ross. At the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT), 1,200 students from developing countries come annually to Israel’s southernmost region in the Negev Desert to learn the best in innovation, studying alongside Israeli farmers and scientists for an entire year. Ninety‑five people are employed through AICAT, contributing to the betterment of the local economy and community. Population numbers are sure to increase as AICAT expands its campus thanks to major gifts from Claire and Marc Perlman (North Kingstown, RI) and Drs. Barbara Sommer and Alan Fisher (Atherton, CA). Then there are the many artists who call the new community of Zukim home, the people who use JNF’s new emergency and medical centers, and the thousands of residents enjoying the community centers, kindergartens, and synagogues we built. With all the people coming to the Arava to work, live, and sightsee, many are sure to find comfort in a world‑class recreational pool, which is nearing completion. Thanks to the support of the EGL Charitable Foundation, the aquatic center it’s housed in will help to further transform the entire Arava Valley into a major destination for Israeli and international tourist.
In the weeks to come, you will hear about the new partnership between Jewish National Fund and the University of Arizona. This exciting venture will utilize the skillsets of our scientists and farmers in the Arava to help farmers in Africa lead healthier and better lives. In the meantime, please read and share the recently published article in The Jerusalem Post spotlighting the power of Jewish National Fund’s women.
Nefesh B’Nefesh to Open Aliyah Campus in Jerusalem
Educating and connecting Jews in the diaspora to their heritage and Israel is a top mission for us. We recently announced our campaign to build a massive new $300 million Jewish National Fund Israel Education & Technology Center on a 16‑acre campus in Be’er Sheva. That connection and assimilation into Israeli society is equally important to our partner Nefesh B’Nefesh as they plan to build and open the Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Campus & Visitors Center in Jerusalem. Here, Nefesh B’Nefesh will expand its already broad services to the oleh [new immigrant] community. The visitor center will house a state‑of‑the‑art multi‑media experience highlighting Aliyah and the contribution of olim to Israeli society and the world. I am very pleased to report that Drs. Toby and Mort Mower (Denver, CO) have contributed to finance the center’s new pavilion and art gallery, and another Colorado donor is naming the campus lobby. Kol HaKavod to Mort for being awarded the highest form of recognition the University of Maryland’s Medical School bestows on its most distinguished alumni, faculty, and friends who have made outstanding contributions to science, medicine, and public health. Mort recently received the Dean’s Distinguished Gold Medal at the School of Medicine’s graduation ceremony.
A check returns to us 93 years later
Rick Krosnick, Jewish National Fund’s chief development officer, shared with me the above check he received, along with a letter, from a donor. What makes this check so interesting is that it was addressed to Jewish National Fund in 1926, the year of our founding as a nonprofit organization in the United States. At that time, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL‑JNF) was only 25‑years‑old and it was still some 22 years before the State of Israel would win its independence in 1948. I’m sure the signer, H.B. Cohen, could not imagine how our Jewish homeland would develop from this investment. Curious to know what $10 is worth in 2019 dollars? That would be equivalent to a $240 contribution today.
Florida’s David Stein transforms young lives with sponsorship of Caravan for Democracy
Jewish National Fund held our annual Caravan for Democracy Jacksonville alumni brunch in April. Each year, JNF hosts a brunch with David and Linda Stein, proud supporters of JNF’s Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission to Israel (CFD). Their gift supports seven students annually from Jacksonville University and University of North Florida to participate on CFD. This year we opened the brunch up to alumni from all years, and the results were historic. We hosted 14 Caravan for Democracy alumni from the Jacksonville area, the largest brunch in the history of the program.
At the brunch, David Stein remarked, “This is the best alumni gathering I’ve ever been a part of. Thank you for inviting all the alumni.” Linda Stein said, “We are so proud of the impact this program and its participants have made on the Jacksonville community; you give me hope for the future.” Paul Donaldson, a 2018 Caravan for Democracy participant remarked, “I attended this brunch to thank the Steins for transforming my life. Traveling on Caravan for Democracy inspired me to take on a new leadership position in student government.” Vaughn Sayers, a 2016 participant told the Steins, “I am honored to be an alum of Caravan for Democracy, I am humbled to be a member of the JNF family, and I am happy to be part of your legacy.”
To date, 300 non-Jewish student leaders from across America have traveled to Israel on JNF’s Caravan for Democracy mission. Of the 300 alumni, 50 hail from the Jacksonville area. The alumni network in Jacksonville is thriving thanks to the generosity of David and Linda Stein.
Ask the CEO
These days, many nonprofits rely on funding from social media and other cash donation type fundraising initiatives. What alternative methods of charitable giving does JNF offer?
Jewish National Fund‑USA is a leader in peer‑to‑peer and social media fundraising. Fifteen years ago, we created a program called “Plant Your Way to Israel,” which allows anyone up to age 30 to raise money via a web‑based fundraising page. Half of the revenue goes towards projects and afforestation in Israel, and the other half allows the donor to utilize/redeem the contribution for any trip they choose to take to Israel. Many apply it to Jewish National Fund programs, to attend Alexander Muss High School in Israel, or use the funds to go to Israel with family. Jewish National Fund even accepts Venmo and PayPal‑we’re keeping up with the trends and trying to meet the needs of young people who want to contribute and be involved. We have also started a texting program to reach our audiences in a new way that allows them to have a convenient and easy platform to support Israel. People can opt‑in to JNF text messages by texting JNFUSA to 563‑872 to receive special messages. We are always thinking of how to better connect and communicate, not just today, but well into the next 25 to 50 years.
If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]
With my very best wishes to you and your family,
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish National Fund