Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:



I am thrilled to report that we achieved another milestone in the quest to reach our $1 Billion 10-year goal. As of today, we are now over $550 million.  The pace of our 2019 annual campaign continues to be strong nationally compared to the same date last year as we are ahead in giving units at each level. As I have discussed before, every local board should review their local Campaign Progress Report on a monthly basis. Compare your current progress against your annual goal as well as against the same date the previous year. As the end of the calendar year approaches, now is the time for your professional fundraising team to run a report in Salesforce to identify typical end of year (EOY) donors. We have many donors who give in December as they think about their taxes and these donors make December one of JNF’s strongest months of fundraising. With thousands of EOY donors across the country, we need your help to make phone calls.



While we are still reconciling gifts made for Giving Tuesday, it looks like our numbers will be ahead of last year. More than 1,400 gifts were made online, and we are already at a little more than $1.1 million raised, not including the generous $1.15 million match from Ronald S. Lauder, the Gene and Marlene Epstein Humanitarian Fund and Bob Lembke. When gifts via Facebook and from the several Giving Tuesday events that took place across the country are processed, I am confident we will close in on $3 million.



I hope to see you at our annual Winter Connection brunch in sunny Florida on Friday, January 18.  Last year 1,200 people participated.  Attendance has grown so much we have moved to a new facility at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Visit jnf.org/winterconnectionfor more information and for online registration.  The focus of Winter Connection is to get our snowbirds to fill tables with their friends from their home community in the north. I’d love to see more tables this year from Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Baltimore/DC, Pittsburgh, as well as many tables from the New York and New Jersey area. For major donors, there will also be a special dinner Thursday evening, January 17. If you did not see the invitation, you can find an online version here.



If you missed one of our first two Lay Leader Training Seminars, you can click on the links below for the video recording.


Please be sure to save the date for the next seminar, January 16 at 12 Noon eastern with the topic: JNF Organizational Overview and Financial Structure.  JNF CFO Mitch Rosenzweig and Treasurer Andy Klein will take us through everything from our sources of revenue and expenses to our distributions in Israel for JNF’s visionary projects and programs.


Leadership Training Seminar #1 (9/13/18) – History of Zionism and Jewish National Fund




Leadership Training Seminar #2 (11/14/18) – The Power of the JNF Brand and Brand Management




Shabbat Shalom,

Shabbat Shalom,





Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign

IsraelCast Update

This week’s podcast guest is a delight! Meet Susie Fishbein, the wildly successful cookbook author with nine books released in the Kosher by Design series. Listen on iTunes, jnf.org/israelcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Text JNFUSA to 563-872

Jewish National Fund has a new texting platform! Please text JNFUSA to 563-872 on your mobile phones to make sure you receive text alerts and updates from us.


Alexander Muss High School in Israel

Students and staff celebrated Thanksgiving on campus in Hod HaSharon. It was a great night for all, filled with lots of spirit. As the year comes to a close we said goodbye to students from our September Mini-mester, a group from American Hebrew Academy, and our students from Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy. But we welcomed a whole new crop of teens. Our December mini-mester students have just arrived, along with two groups from Australia! AMHSI-JNF is pleased to continue our relationships with Masada College of Sydney and the Emanuel School of New South Wales. Our new groups participated in AMHSI-JNF classic lessons and tiyulim including a first Shabbat in Israel spent in Jerusalem, hiking Gilboa in the Hidden Valley, and a sunrise hike of Mount Masada.

Travel & Tours Update


Last chance! Canadian & American Active Retirees in Israel (CAARI) trip is a rewarding volunteer experience in Israel for those over the age of 50. There are two to six week options available this January - check them out here!


Updates from Israel

New Rehabilitation Hospital

We are happy to announce that the construction at the new Rehabilitation Hospital of Jewish National Fund partner ALEH-Negev Nahalat Eran has started!

Olim Give Thanks Together!

Throughout Israel, Jewish National Fund partner Nefesh B’Nefesh hosted Thanksgiving gatherings to celebrate American traditions and give thanks as Israeli Americans. Celebrations were held in Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and with Lone Soldiers. Over 300 olim came out for these joyous events!

Protecting the Land

This week Jewish National Fund partner HaShomer HaChadash drafted 40 more volunteers to one of its special units -- the Dirt Bike Team! These volunteers utilize their love of the outdoors and professionalism to give back and protect the land in a very unique way. They patrol at night with their motorbikes, protecting herds of cattle in areas where other vehicles cannot go, and allowing the farmers of the region a full night's sleep. This is a great example of the vast opportunities there are to contribute if the platform is made available.

Middle Schoolers Visit Be'er Sheva

Many Israelis still view the Negev as the ancient stereotype of camels and sand. That's why visits like this are so important! Last week, 8th graders visited the new hi-tech park in Be'er Sheva to hear about innovative new initiatives across the region, including the Netgev Centers in Arad, Dimona, and Hura. The future of Israel, and the future of hi-tech, is in the Negev. Our NetGev Centers for Innovation and Entrepreneurship allow local residents to train in new tech careers and serve as a home for young entrepreneurs. 

Special in the IDF

This week, Jewish National Fund partner Special in Uniform had a very meaningful ceremony welcoming our new soldiers to a new IDF Medical Corps base. The base provides medical care in times of war, security operations and in routine, day-to-day life. Also, the base maintains responsibility for military infirmaries throughout Israel, and, in times of war, for Homefront Command hospitals and field hospitals. Special in Uniform soldiers will be working at the base warehouse team. We wish them good luck. 

D’Var Torah

By Yossi Kahana



In this week’s Torah parasha, Vayeishev, deception has taken place and Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers dipped his coat in blood and brought it back to their father, saying: “Look what we have found. Do you recognize it? Is this your son’s robe or not?”


Jacob recognizes it and replies, “It is my son’s robe. A wild beast has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces.”


We then read:


Jacob tore his clothes, put on a sackcloth and mourned his son for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.


He said, “I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.”


Why did Jacob refuse to be comforted? There are laws in Judaism about the limits of grief – shivah, sheloshim, a year. There is no such thing as a bereavement for which grief is endless. The Talmud says that G-d says to one who weeps beyond the appointed time, “You are not more compassionate than I.”


A midrash gives a remarkable answer.


“One can be comforted for one who is dead, but not for one who is still living.”


Jacob refused to be comforted because he had not yet given up hope that Joseph was still alive. Tragically, that is the fate of those who have lost members of their family, but have no proof that they are dead (such as the parents of soldiers missing in action). They cannot go through the normal stages of mourning, because they cannot abandon the possibility that the person is just missing and still capable of being rescued. Their continuing anguish is a form of loyalty. To give up, to mourn, to be reconciled to loss is a kind of betrayal. In such cases, grief lacks closure. To refuse to be comforted is to refuse to give up hope.


The refusal to be comforted is sounded more than once in Jewish history.


It is not too much to say that hope has sustained Jewish survival. Where did it come from? From a simple – or perhaps not so simple – phrase in the life of Jacob.


“He refused to be comforted.”


And so, too, must we. We live in a world continuously scarred by violence, poverty and injustice. We can grieve these things. However, we must not mourn the loss of good in the world, for then the world is already lost to us. We must not give up hope.


The very mission of JNF symbolizes hope in the future. Hope that through the vision of JNF we can influence the reality of life in Israel today. JNF is the embodiment of hope to improve the quality of life of all the inhabitants of Israel. Notwithstanding the complexities and competing issues of dealing with everyday life in Israel, JNF offers a practical opportunity to leave a legacy of hope and belief in the future.


Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah,