WEEKLY UPDATES 10.26.18 – JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:
Finally, we are together in Phoenix!
It has been great seeing so many long-time JNF friends, and in the 24 hours since arriving in Phoenix, I’ve met dozens of new people who are bursting with energy in support of Israel. I can’t wait for the opening plenary this afternoon. To be in a room with nearly one-thousand people who share similar values is an awesome feeling. I’m told the Shabbat dinner is sold out for tonight…incredible!
With all the mishigas in our world these days and the political polarization on all sides of the spectrum, it is nice to know Jewish National Fund is a safe place where we put all of that aside and come together as one family -- who may disagree about this or that, but are united by our love of Israel. And for me, that makes JNF a very special organization. This weekend, more than any other, I feel the power of our Jewish family. I feel the power of Jewish National Fund!
Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign
Travel & Tours Update
Alexander Muss High School in Israel
We are proud to have had a presence at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Tel Aviv this week. We reconnected with our amazing alumni and connected with Jewish professionals from around the globe. Immediately following the convention, thanks to Michael Dzik and our first cohort of the Jewish Communal Professionals Initiative, we brought a busload of Federation professionals to tour our campus and explore more local community partnerships opportunities. Our conference fun continues this weekend at Jewish National Fund National Conference 2018! Look for AMHSI-JNF Alumna Shir Czopp, who will be singing the National Anthems in the opening plenary, and performing her original song CHANGE. Our Co-CEO Rabbi Leor Sinai will be the MC for the Continuum plenary on Sunday at 11:15am. Plus we’ll have a table of full of giveaways and information in the Jewish National Fund in Israel Expo.
Updates from Israel
C46 Airplane Experience Project Update
The Society for Preservation is working to create a brand new experience for visitors to Atlit Detention Camp site. The C46 Airplane Experience will be a state-of-the-art exhibit that will transport guests straight into the heroic story of clandestine immigration by air to the land of Israel. Development of the exhibit has progressed from shipping the plane from Alaska to Israel and rebuilding the plane at Atlit Detention Camp, to the current stage of curating and designing the exhibit. This new attraction will share a new side of the Atlit story and create an even more interactive experience for visitors.
Speed Dating…for Designers?
Yep, you heard right. Our Lauder Employment Center is innovative in promoting Negev employment, which means we are creative when working with both employers and job seekers. This month, we held the 3rd annual “Southern Designers” speed dating event, where local designers met with a variety of employers in only 2 hours, helping them find steady and professional work.
Special in the IDF
The preparation process for Jewish National Fund’s Special in Uniform program begins at age 17, when representatives meet students with disabilities in their schools. This week, Special in Uniform visited a special education school in Be’er Sheva, where they talked to youngsters about serving in the Army.
By Yossi Kahana
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks once said: “To be a leader, you do not need a crown or robes of office. All you need to do is to write your chapter in the story.” In this week's Torah reading, Vayeira, we learn about the life of Abraham, the first Jew, our father, our leader.
Who was Abraham, and why was he chosen? What was the purpose behind choosing him to become God’s representative on Earth?
For any leader, the ultimate test of courage and leadership comes when he is faced with the challenge of speaking out on an issue, even if his words may not seem popular. Thus it was Abraham, who, when faced with God’s potential destruction of Sodom, displayed what Abraham Joshua Heschel would call “moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.” In challenging God, Abraham says: “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? What if there should be 50 innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the 50 who are in it? It would be sacrilege even to ascribe such an act to You — to kill the innocent with the guilty, letting the righteous and the wicked fare alike. It would be sacrilege to ascribe this to You. Shall the whole world’s Judge not act justly?” (Genesis 18:23-25).
While many might find Abraham’s words shocking and disrespectful to God, it was exactly the type of response that God was looking for.
Abraham had to have the courage to challenge G-d if his descendants were going to challenge human rulers, as Moses and the prophets did. Jews do not accept the world that is. They challenge it in the name of the world that ought to be. This is a critical turning point in human history: the birth of the world’s first religion of protest—a faith that challenges the world instead of accepting it.
Abraham was not a conventional leader. He did not rule a nation, as there was no nation yet for him to lead. But he was the role model of leadership as Judaism understands it. He took responsibility. He acted; he didn’t wait for others to act. Of Noah, the Torah says, “He walked with G-d.” But to Abraham, G-d himself said, “Walk before Me,” meaning: be a leader. Walk ahead. Take personal responsibility. Take moral responsibility. Take collective responsibility.
This relates beautifully to a message for each one of us. We are in Phoenix together with more than 1,000 JNF leaders for the most amazing conference of all. We are here for the land and people of Israel and to make the world a better place. As leaders in the Jewish world, we can learn from Abraham. We need to not accept things as the status quo, but always question them as to how they can be better so that we can each help fulfill a mission of making the world a better place.