WEEKLY UPDATES 10.12.18 – JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:
2018 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN
The last pledges and checks for the 2018 campaign have been counted, and we did even better than our projections. I am happy to report we closed 2018 at more than $85.3 million. But our revenue is even stronger than the annual campaign. When factoring in investment income, we produced more than $90 million during the fiscal campaign year. It’s really an incredible achievement. Our total toward our $1 billion ten-year goal is officially over $537 million.
Our 2019 campaign has officially started. There are 750 lay leaders serving on local, regional or national boards and committees and, as a group, we collectively donated more than $16 million for the 2018 campaign. As leaders of Jewish National Fund, it is so important that we make our annual gift now. Our donations not only help create momentum to get our new campaign year off to a fast start, but by making our gift, we have the ability to ask others to join us.
I want to thank all of you for the phone calls, e-mails, text messages, and in many cases, personal visits last week following my father’s death. My dad lived a long and blessed life, and last week was not just about saying goodbye, it gave me and my family the opportunity to celebrate him and recount wonderful memories. Thank you all for your friendship.
Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign
Travel & Tours Update
Alexander Muss High School in Israel
This week, our 2018 Fall Semester Impact Fellows met with AMHSI Co-CEO Rabbi Leor Sinai and Jewish National Fund Chief Israel Officer Eric Michaelson to discuss ways to stay involved as part of the JNF family both in Israel and America. The 17 students from Washington State, Miami, and the Greater Boston area got to share from the student perspective what is meaningful for them, and discovered how they and their peers are an important part of the JNF Israel Continuum. It was a great day!
Updates from Israel
25 Years of Making Israel Accessible
Last week marked Jewish National Fund partner LOTEM’s 25th anniversary. To honor the occasion, three Knesset members joined hundreds of professionals from the Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Labor, and Ministry of Education for a conference and accessibility exhibition showcasing state-of-the-art technologies in the accessibility field, as well as those used to make parks and museums in Israel accessible.
M.K. Orly Levi Abukasis said, "There are too few accessible paths in Israel for families to enjoy nature together. It is unbelievable that Nachal HaShofet was made possible with absolutely no governmental funding. Without organizations such as LOTEM and JNF, Israeli outdoors would not be accessible. It is our responsibility as a government to be involved more. Nature is the gift of God and we must respect everyo￼e's right to access any park in the country".
Entrepreneurs in Dimona
Dimona mayor Beni Bitton recently visited NetGev Dimona for an open meeting with NetGev entrepreneurs. The intimate group spoke of technology and development, and shared their ideas about how to make Dimona more attractive to young adults. NetGev Centers in Dimona, Arad, and Hura provide technical training, workshops, and shared workspace for local residents.
Sukkot at the Heritage Sites
Last week, families from all over Israel gathered at Israel’s heritage sites to celebrate Sukkot. Many of the heritage sites built Sukkahs and hosted family-friendly events. At Mikveh Israel, the historic agricultural school, the Visitor’s Center hosted crafts and other activities for kids and their parents, as well as special tours of the site. Minkov Citrus Orchard Museum hosted a Song Night, at which over 300 people enjoyed live music by the citrus grove. Ben Gurion’s Desert Home in Sde Boker held different activities every day, including workshops to teach how to do Ben Gurion’s famous handstand and much more. With so many events happening, Sukkot was a wonderful opportunity for people to visit the heritage sites and learn about Israel’s history while celebrating an important Jewish holiday.
Special in the IDF
Century Council and King Solomon Society donors Amy & Fred Weiss from Florida arrived in Israel to officially welcome and open a unit of Special in Uniform they sponsored at The Air Force Technical School in Haifa. The base operates two schools: an aeronautical engineering school and a technical professional school. The commanders of the base told them how meaningful it is to have such a unit, thanking the Weiss family and Jewish National Fund for the partnership and support.
By Yossi Kahana
I can confidently say you have all heard the story written about in this week’s Torah portion. God wants to send a flood to destroy the world, so He tells the righteous Noah to build an ark and bring in two of every animal. Then it rains for 40 days and 40 nights, God sends a rainbow, and Noah lives happily ever after. Right?
Well, at least it makes a good children's story. Or it could be a Steven Spielberg adventure film, but clearly not a good Steve Carrell movie. But given that the Torah is the driving force of the Jewish nation and the eternal source of our collective wisdom, let's take a few minutes to uncover deeper layers of "Noah and the Ark."
The flood represents all of our issues—namely, the ones that plague us from all around. The demands that crash like waves into us, thrusting us into an insular, inflexible mindset in which there is time only for doing and none for being, in which we must constantly strive and compete to make something of ourselves (e.g., “I must get good grades, so I can go to a good college, so I can get a good job, in order to make lots of money, so I can go on vacation—and spend more time thinking about how my worth is directly proportional to how high I stand on the corporate ladder, or the numbers of zeroes on my bank statements”).
The flood is constantly threatening to either smother the Godly spark that lies within us, which is crying and yearning to express itself but feels it’s being drowned by the overwhelming anxieties and pressures of life.
But even with the “water” crashing into and around us, we are protected by the ark. A part of us that is pure, unaffected by the painful anxieties of the material world, a part of us whose relationship with God is natural and deep, whose essence is uncontaminated by the flood of physical and material concerns. And no matter how ferociously the storm of problems and worries thrashes upon us, that part of us remains unaffected, in a tranquil state of oneness with God. (In fact, the name “Noach” shares a root with the word nechamah, “comfort.”) In the expressive words of Song of Songs (8:7), “Many waters cannot extinguish the love, nor can rivers flood it…”
And yet, despite its violent and threatening nature, the flood is not just an enemy to be overcome or obliterated. It’s the very vehicle that pushes and elevates the ark to greater heights. A foundation of Judaism is that our material world is not the enemy of spirituality. In fact, the opposite is true. They are made for each other, like hand and glove. It is one of those ironic paradoxes of life: only when one is immersed in the material world, and forced to wrestle with it, can one’s relationship with God become something potent and real.
When we struggle and overcome anxieties that threaten to drown us in a life void of meaning and purpose, when we fight our obsessive and selfish pursuits of materiality and superficial quests for self-worth—these challenges bring out the best in us. They allow us to feel the anguishing pain of distance from our true selves, the part of us that is totally in sync with God. They empower us with new resolve to redirect our lives toward a higher meaning and purpose.
Just Yesterday, Russell F. Robinson, JNF’s Chief Executive Officer, published an important article about the dark side of hate happening in our universities. “The BDS is anti-Democracy. Anti-Israel is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is Anti-American, and at the same time a group of 187 American high school students from various backgrounds dancing with the Torah on the top of Masada, that is the story of Jewish National Fund. Not of hate; it is the story of love and good, and a great, proud people. It is the story of celebration, and of dancing, one that connects us to Israel, to America, and our shared values of democracy and life.”
Do not allow the floods to drown you into oblivion. First, find solace inside the ark. Then grab hold of the helm. We can all agree that the world needs Israel (our ark) despite the waves that currently seem to be rising and surrounding us. Please take a moment over Shabbat and this weekend to say a prayer for peace, but more importantly to educate/enlighten a friend, neighbor, peer or stranger about Positively Israel and why we all know that after the rain there will be a rainbow and sunshine. Israel is our ark, our soul, our future and together we will continue fighting for the country and peace we know is possible.