Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:




Before sharing the current status of our campaign, let me extend my thoughts and best wishes to members of our Jewish National Fund family in California who are impacted, yet again, by wildfires. I’ve heard about many people who have had to evacuate their homes. We also pray for members of the fire and rescue services who, at great risk to themselves, are doing their duty of protecting lives and property. We all pray that the fires are soon under control.



Well, the holidays may have limited the number of work days this first month of our 2020 campaign year, but it has been a productive month indeed. We have already raised more than $6.6 million compared to $5.1 million at the same time last year and $4.3 million on the same date in 2018. I want to congratulate our teams in Northern Florida and Central New Jersey, each of whom closed $1 million dollar gift this month. I also want to thank the Planned Giving team, led by Matt Bernstein, who were instrumental in making both gifts happen. Those two gifts are among another dozen gifts of six-figures or more this month, including a $500,000 gift in Las Vegas. We are now at nearly $627 million toward our $1 billion goal.



Everyone receiving this Weekly Campaign Update is a leader of Jewish National Fund. Our primary responsibility, no matter our titles or the committees on which we serve, is to advocate for JNF and to help expand the donor base so we can continue doing great things in Israel. When we make our annual gift we affirm our commitment to participate in JNF’s transformative work. And as leaders, we should be the first in line to support JNF. With nearly 1,400 people serving on JNF boards and committees, we represent a significant percentage to JNF’s campaign. For those who have already made your annual campaign gift… thank you!! For those who have not yet had the opportunity, please do so now. Leaders lead!



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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IsraelCast Update

This week on IsraelCast, host Steven Shalowitz visits with Jacob “Yaki” Reuven, an internationally acclaimed mandolin player, to talk everything music. At age seven, Yaki was introduced to the most beautiful sound he had ever heard: the sound of a mandolin. Listen in to hear about his passion for music (and the mandolin) and what has changed for the Israeli music scene over the past decade at jnf.org/israelcast

Travel & Tours Update

Limited space left! Celebrate Chanukah in Israel on a vacation the whole family can enjoy on the Hadassah & Jewish National Fund Israel Family Tour. Bar/Bat Mitzvah options available. Learn more here.

Alexander Muss High School in Israel

Our Barrack students are wrapping up their trip to Poland. Students have been tracing the rich history of Polish Jewry and learning about the Holocaust through visiting numerous sites, including the Lodz cemetery, deportation station in Lodz (Radagast), Jewish historical sites in Krakow, Buczyna Forest, the remains of the Great Synagogue in Tarnow, Auschwitz and Birkenau. In addition, they had the opportunity to meet with a righteous Gentile to hear her unbelievable story of how she saved Jews during the war.


We also welcomed our 8th grade group from San Diego Jewish Academy. They have hit the ground running and are well into their explorations across Israel.


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.


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.


Updates from Israel

Kfar Masaryk – Historic Shoe Maker Workshop




The Historic Shoe Maker workshop in Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk is officially open! The workshop is a joint project of Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk Tourism, Landmarks – The Heritage Project, JNF Western Galilee Tourist Information Center and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, as part of the Kibbutz Experience initiative. This past Sunday, the community of the beautiful Kibbutz in the Western Galilee held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the preservation project. We look forward to further develop the historic courtyard of the Kibbutz.


Special in the IDF




The Israel Bonds Women’s Delegation is currently on a meaningful and enriching journey in Israel. The delegation’s goal is to learn about innovation while also meeting with personalities changing Israel and the world. So, they ask to meet Jewish National Fund’s affiliate Special in Uniform. They visited a base in the north and gave special awards to the soldiers with different abilities, saluting them for serving in the IDF.

D’Var Torah

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 such as 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 around us. 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 to 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.

From one side we see the dark side of hate happening in our Universities and the BDS movement, but at the same time we look at AMHSI and JNF's educational initiatives, look at the hundreds of  American high school students from various backgrounds coming to Israel, 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, 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. 



Shabbat Shalom,