Speakers Bureau Newsletter - June 2019

A Message from Chairman, Robert Benedon


May, also known as Women’s month, was an extremely busy month, featuring many breakfasts and parlor meetings with our Speakers Bureau talent. 


It was also a difficult time for our families in the Gaza Envelope who endured a long weekend in bomb shelters as 700 rockets were fired into Israel. Jewish National Fund sprang into action raising awareness and funds to help the communities most in need.  And now, as I write, fires are erupting due to the intense heat – once again JNF’s firefighting equipment is saving lives.


My community’s recent breakfast featured Libby Weiss, a fabulous member of our Speakers Bureau, who spoke about the challenges of telling the story of the Israeli military to an audience that is oftentimes not interested in the facts, but only the rhetoric. My Rabbi in his D’var Torah spoke about the rise in anti-Semitism both locally and around the world but praised JNF for being a true unwavering voice in support of Israel.  It was a wonderful event and made me realize just how important it is for Jewish National Fund to aggressively get out in front of as many audiences as we can.


As we head into Summer and begin planning for major Fall fundraising events, utilize our amazing speakers, Israelis and lay leadership for these engagements. Makor members traveling for business or pleasure this Summer and Fall: Please let us know when you some available time to speak at a parlor meeting, synagogue or school. And join us at our National Conference in Washington, D.C. this September 13-15. Registration is available at jnf.org/nc


And, finally, I would like to thank Cheryl Lefland, who has moved to Florida, for her hard work making our Speakers Bureau the stellar collection of talent it has become over the past five years and wish her the best in her new position with JNF’s Planned Giving Department. I am so pleased to welcome Sarah Cohen who will be taking over as Speakers Bureau Director effective July 1.  I look forward to working with her as we continue to grow our Speakers Bureau.  May we go from Strength to Strength. 


Wishing you a pleasant summer,


Featured Speakers

Begin planning now for Fall and Winter events.  Bring a JNF speaker to your community – for a JNF Breakfast, Tree of Life™ event, Professional Societies, JNFuture, synagogue program, and more. 




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Michelle Divon 


Michelle Divon is an Israeli-American journalist and TV host living in NYC and working as a news anchor and reporter for News12 Westchester. Since moving to the city, Michelle has emceed various events for SOSA, JCRC, JCC, AICF, IAC, Batsheva, The Algemeiner, and others. Michelle has also written for Times of Israel and The Forward and hosted the annual Israel Parade broadcast with Fox5.

Several of our Israeli based speakers will be on U.S. tours this fall: (Click on the names below for more information)


Dov Lipman                July 8-13

Zeev Ben Shahar       August 6-26

Hen Mazzig                October 15-November 15

Gil Hoffman                October 25-November10



Affiliate Visits


Israeli affiliates (formerly called partners) provide a direct connection to JNF projects in Israel. Their specific projects vary, but they offer an intriguing and enthusiastic view of what JNF does and why it makes a difference to the communities and people of Israel.


Plan now for visits pre- and post-National Conference (September 13-15). Host an affiliate for donor solicitations, parlor meetings, community events, affinity groups, synagogue events and more.  Let us know if you have a particular affiliate to invite or a date you’d like to fill.

See the attached list of current affiliates and latest US travel schedule.


View Affiliate list and  View Affiliate schedule


Contact Sarah Cohen to book an Affiliate or Speaker.  

JNF Zionist Education & Advocacy

JNF is continuing our partnership with the Israel Scouts in America (or Tzofim), an organization that provides opportunities for Israel education and engagement to Jewish and Israeli communities in North America. As part of the partnership, JNF is supporting the Tzofim Friendship Caravan which brings Israeli culture and spirit to each community it interacts with through song, dance, story, and conversation. The Caravan forges a connection between the lives of Israeli teens and North Americans of all ages.

There are three Caravan groups – Northeast, Southeast and Coast to Coast. They will stage over 250 performances. You can view the schedule here.

JNF is incorporated into the show but we have an opportunity to have a JNF representative deliver pre-prepared remarks on stage and offer a blue box to a representative of the community in which the Caravan is performing.


If anyone is interested in participating, please reach out to Eliana Dalfen at  [email protected]

Book a Makor Member for Year-Round Solicitation and Speaking

Makor (Hebrew for “source”) is a specially-trained group of highly involved Jewish National Fund lay leaders committed to JNF’s mission. Makor members are JNF spokespeople, ambassadors, educators, and fundraisers.


They work collaboratively with professionals to identify prospective donors, conduct direct solicitations, and assist in educating interested parties about JNF, its action areas, and its affiliates.


Makor members advocate for JNF, provide training, education, and inspiration to community lay leaders, support local professionals, teach solicitation techniques, and are involved in outreach to communities outside of their own.


This year, each community has an assigned Makor member. Please invite them for parlor meetings, synagogues and other engagements in addition to donation solicitations. Please welcome our Makor members and national leaders into your communities to generate new leads and open doors – they are happy to make the ask.




Featured Makor Speaker:  Rhonda Sheakley


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Rhonda Sheakley is a member of Makor and involved locally in Ohio Valley, having received JNF's Tree of Life™ award in 2016. She is also an advocate for the Boys and Girls Club, Cincinnati Art Museum, and Playhouse in the Par, and was president of the National Council of Jewish Women and Brandeis Women. She has received the American Heart Association Heart of the City award, the Boys and Girls Club Humanitarian of the Year award, and the Cincinnati Philanthropist of the Year award.


Click Here for Makor 2019 

Contact Sarah Cohen to book a Makor member.