Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:


I hope the chagim (holidays) have been meaningful for you and your families.




This is our first Weekly Campaign Update for the 2020 fiscal campaign year and the first opportunity to report on the success of the 2019 campaign year. I am pleased to report the 2019 annual campaign closed at $85,358,000, which is one million more than our goal. It was a great campaign year and our goal for 2020 is even loftier. We have established an aggressive goal of $92 million for 2020. As for our progress toward our 10-year $1 Billion goal, we are now at $623 million.


In addition to our total campaign goal for 2020, and if you have read the campaign plan, we want to achieve 10,000 donors giving $1,000 or more to the annual campaign. We currently have about 6,000 donors at that level. It is a major focus of ours and we need lay leader support to reach out to donors. Our General Campaign team, led by Bob Cohan from Boston and Bob Weiss from Brooklyn, is working on a plan that we hope to soon roll out across the country.



For those who have not yet had the opportunity to download the 2020 Campaign Plan, please do so. This plan is “a living document” which provides a framework to conduct our annual campaign. It is also a great resource manual filled with a campaign calendar, best practices, and leadership directories. Please be sure all local board members review this document and even more, focus your October board meeting on how you will roll out many of the objectives and programs outlined in the plan. Click here to download the 2020 JNF Campaign Plan.




It is unbelievable that more than 300 people have already registered for the 2020 National Conference taking place in Israel next October 25 – 29. We are well on our way towards our goal of bringing 1,000 people to Israel for the Conference. A friendly competition is starting to unfold among local communities as to who can bring the most people to Israel. Register now! The sooner you register the more you will save. To learn more about NC 2020 in Israel, visit jnf.org/nc.



Shabbat Shalom,


    Ben Gutmann

    Vice President, Campaign

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Our summer session kicked off their first full week on campus by volunteering at Save a Child's Heart and Leket. Later this week they will continue on to Jerusalem for their first overnight tiyul. 

We also wished our April session farewell as they concluded their eight week session. We are already excited to welcome them to our AMHSI alumni community!

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Shop Amazon Smile

Did you know that you can support Jewish National Fund while you shop? Amazon Smile will donate a portion of your purchase price to us when you shop through smile.amazon.com

JNF In Your Area

Traveling to another city and want to see what JNF events are taking place there? Just visit jnf.org/inyourarea for a quick look at how to stay engaged while on the road.


Travel & Tours Update

Take an upbeat tour of Israel’s hottest sights and enjoy all there is to see and do on our Singles Tour for 40s and 50s. Learn more here.

Alexander Muss High School in Israel

For Simchat Torah, our students had the unique opportunity of celebrating the holiday in Jerusalem. They visited a number of synagogues to a get a taste of the holiday from different perspectives and the next day, joined in on dancing with the Torah. Later in the week, our October session ascended Masada, our Fall Semester session held their Zionism Seminar on famous historical Zionist figures and our Barrack group culminated their Holocaust studies by departing for Poland for a week-long trip.

Updates from Israel

Kinneret Courtyard




With all the excitement of the holidays just now settling down, progress at Israel's heritage sites is moving forward at full speed! The Kinneret Courtyard in the Galilee just celebrated the unveiling of their beautiful new lobby, located in the historic West Wing, on September 24. The major renovation allows for this significant and incredibly active center to shine brighter than ever before. The premiere of the new lobby is just a preview of things to come at The Kinneret Courtyard as visitors from far and wide anticipate the installation of "Kinneret Nights," a "Multimedia Spectacular" set to take place in the future.

D’Var Torah

Jewish National Fund's motto is, 'Your Voice in Israel.’ Yes, JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.


In this week’s Torah portion, Bereshit (In the Beginning), G-d creates the world. In the beginning the world was one big mess; nothing was in its place. During the six days of creation, G‑d put each thing where it belonged. Let us see how:


On the 1st day, G‑d separated night and day.

On the 2nd day, G‑d divided the sky from the earth.

On the 3rd day, G‑d separated the land and the sea, and created the trees, flowers and grass.

On the 4th day, G‑d put the sun, moon and stars in their right places.

On the 5th day, G‑d put the fish, birds and reptiles (like snakes and lizards) in their places.

On the 6th day, G‑d created land animals like cows and sheep and the very first human beings — our grandparents, Adam and Eve!

On the 7th day, G‑d stopped working and rested. It was Shabbat.


Adam and Eve marry and go to live in the Garden of Eden, a beautiful place where everything is available and ready for them. They have beautiful fruit trees from which to eat and plants, flowers and rivers to enjoy. Adam and Eve are able to eat of any tree or plant except one: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil which G‑d does not allow them to eat from.


However, the evil snake convinces Eve to take a bite, and she gives one to Adam, too. So Adam and Eve are thrown out of the Garden of Eden as punishment and from that day on they have to work for a living and do not have it as easy as before.


Adam and Eve have two children, Cain and Abel; one day the two have a fight and Cain kills Abel. From then on, G‑d curses Cain and he becomes a wanderer, a person who has no home and goes all over the world without a place of his own. Adam and Eve have another child, Shet, from whom the great Noach, of whom we will read in next week’s parshah, descends.


Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. Both are about a specific kind of failure.


First Adam and Eve.


The Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:9-12)


Both insist that it was not their fault. Adam blames the woman. The woman blames the serpent. The result is that they are both punished and exiled from Eden. Adam and Eve deny personal responsibility. They say, in effect, “It wasn’t me.”


The second story is more tragic. The first instance of sibling rivalry in the Torah leads to the first murder:


Cain said to his brother Abel … While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Gen. 4:8-10)


Cain does not deny personal responsibility. He does not say, “It was not me,” or “It was not my fault.” He denies moral responsibility. In effect, he asks why he should be concerned with the welfare of anyone but himself.


These two stories are not just stories. They are an account, at the beginning of the Torah’s narrative history of humankind, of a failure, first personal then moral, to take responsibility – and it is this to which leadership is the answer.


But that is what makes a leader. A leader is one who takes responsibility. Leadership is born when we become active not passive, when we don’t wait for someone else to act because, perhaps, there is no one else, at least not here, not now. When bad things happen, some avert their eyes. Some wait for others to act. Some blame others for failing to act. Some simply complain. But there are some who say, “If something is wrong, let me be among the first to put it right.” They are the leaders. They are the ones who make a difference in their lifetimes. They are the ones who make ours a better world.


When Adam and Eve sinned, G-d called out “Where are you?” As Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, pointed out, this call was not directed only to the first humans. It echoes in every generation. G-d gave us freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. G-d teaches us what we ought to do but he does not do it for us. With rare exceptions, G-d does not intervene in history. He acts through us, not to us. His is the voice that tells us, as He told Cain before he committed his crime, that we can resist the evil within us as well as the evil that surrounds us.


The responsible life is a life that responds. G-d himself, calling us to use the freedom He gave us, to make the world that is more like the world that ought to be. The great question, to which the life we lead is the answer, is, which voice will we listen to? The voice of desire, as in the case of Adam and Eve? The voice of anger as in the case of Cain? Or the voice of G-d calling on us to make this a more just and gracious world?


By expressing our Voice in Israel with JNF, we are doing G-d's work.




Shabbat Shalom,