Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:



This past week produced just under $5 million for the annual campaign, and our pace remains strong compared to the same date last year. We are now closing in on $560 million toward our $1 billion goal.


This article from Chronicle of Philanthropy discusses the importance of thanking donors. JNF has more than 400,000 active donors, and while we have a robust communication program that includes the B’yachad magazine, the annual review, the Robinson Report, as well as periodic conference call updates for major donors, we need lay leaders, like you, to help us with the personal touch.  Many local boards have “thank you” committees to reach out by phone to thank donors for gifts and to provide updates. We need more of that kind of donor stewardship throughout the country. It makes a difference.  As we approach the end of the calendar year, let’s make a concerted effort to thank every $1,000 and over donor.  And if you have enough volunteers, go for $500 or even $360 donors.



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 that we have moved to a new facility at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.  Click here for more information and for on-line 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, 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.  More information is on the online invitation.



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 in Israel.


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!





Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign

Alexander Muss High School in Israel


This week we welcomed another Australian group to campus from the New South Wales Board of Jewish Education, bringing our tally to five different student groups participating in AMHSI-JNF programs. Our fall semester group spent this past weekend in the south, snorkeling in Eilat, visiting Ben Gurion's home and learning more of the country’s history, and visiting Kibbutz Lotan to learn about organic farming and environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, our December mini-mester teens climbed Masada, learned and discussed the tragedy, and then lightened up with a float in the Dead Sea.

Travel & Tours Update


Experience a one-of-a-kind exploration into Israel’s medical innovations on the Doctors for Israel Tour, this February 17 – 21. See highlights of the trip and the itinerary here.

Updates from Israel

Agriculture in the Negev


This week, in a field belonging to the Halutza communities near the border with Egypt, radishes were taken out of the ground. Watch this incredible video of this agricultural miracle in the desert.

Olim Celebrate Chanukah

Jewish National Fund partner Nefesh B’Nefesh ensured that olim enjoyed a festive Chanukah, with events throughout Israel to celebrate and build community:

  • NBN Chanukah Panopoly: About 30 olim celebrated Chanukah and enjoyed a night of games, drinks, and prizes at NBN Panopoly.
  • Hi-Tech Career Tour: 40 olim came together in a joint effort of NBN, the Tel Aviv Municipality, and ‘Techit-Forward’ for this hi-tech career tour. We visited the offices of Verbit and Walkme and a number of our olim walked away with solid connections. 
  • Chanukah Party: Over 60 olim came to our Chanukah party at the Hub where we collaborated with cooking school Citrus and Salt and made fresh latkes, edible dreidels, and Moroccan Sfinge. It was a fun and creative way to enjoy the holiday!
  • Integrating new olim through sports: 80 olim went to Netanya stadium and cheered on Maccabi Tel Aviv at their game against Maccabi Ashdod. 
  • Friday night Shabbat Dinner- Community Building: Over 70 Lone Soldiers, National Service women, and olim ages 18-23 lit Chanukah candles and joined together for Shabbat Dinner in Jerusalem.
  • Go North: 50 olim journeyed to the Agamon HaHula on the 4th day of Chanukah to be immersed in the splendor of nature and to appreciate the bird sanctuary. 
  • Go North: Nefesh organized a trip for 70 olim to the Golan on the last day of Chanukah. Bringing people together from all over the north to build community is part of the vision of our partnership.
  • Go South: Over 100 people came to Beer Sheva’s Carasso Science Park for a great day of hands on learning and fun for the whole family. 

Israel Heritage Week 2018: Following in the Footsteps of Independence


At the beginning of December, heritage sites across Israel participated in Israel Heritage Week 2018. This year’s Israel Heritage Week, organized in partnership with the Jerusalem Ministry of Heritage among other organizations, focused on the theme: “In the Footsteps of Independence.” Several of Israel’s heritage sites, including Mikveh Israel outside of Tel Aviv, the HaReut Museum in the Upper Galilee, and Old Nitzanim- Women of Valor Center in the south offered special tours, activities, and competitions for visitors to learn the stories that followed Israel’s independence in a fun and engaging way. In a first for Israel Heritage Week, some heritage sites, including the HaReut Museum and Atlit Detention Camp site near Haifa, offered new accessibility tours for visitors who are blind or deaf, as well as visitors with various cognitive disabilities. These additions are important steps in ensuring that everyone can participate in Israel Heritage Week.

Lauder Employment Center

As Director of NetGev Hura, Ibrahem Elsaid, said, "One of the largest challenges for young Bedouin professionals to integrate into hi-tech, or other quality employment, is their lack of English." This week, the first of several new groups to begin learning English at NetGeva Hura met for a placement exam. This 60 hour English course is in partnership with local universities, where all participants are completing various degrees.

The Pioneering Experience

This week Jewish National Fund partner HaShomer HaChadash hosted 150 high school students from Australia for a meaningful three day journey on the Pioneer Experience program. The group had started their trip in Poland, and finished with HaShomer HaChadash to be reminded of the importance of Israel, to physically connect to the land, and be active in protecting it. The group worked with 6 different farmers and raised their spirits, knowing that they have support from the Jewish nation around the world.

D’Var Torah

On Tuesday, JNF major donors had an Emergency Briefing on Operation Northern Shield. During the call, Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Media Branch of the IDF, thanked JNF for the work we do in the north to support the Israeli community living close to the border and for building up our homeland.

It’s interesting that in this week’s Parsha, Vayigash, we read the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers after decades of bitter separation. This is, no doubt, one of the most dramatic moments in the entire Torah. Twenty-two years earlier, when Joseph was 17 years old, his brothers, despising their younger kin, kidnapped him, threw him into a pit, and then sold him as a slave to Egyptian merchants. In Egypt, he spent 12 years in prison, from where he rose to become viceroy of the country that was the superpower at the time. Now, more than two decades later, the time was right for reconciliation.


"Joseph could not hold in his emotions," the Torah relates. “He dismissed all of his Egyptian assistants from his chamber, thus, no one else was present when he revealed himself to his brothers. He began to weep with such loud sobs that the Egyptians outside could hear him. And Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?' His brothers were so horrified that they could not respond.”


“Joseph said to his brothers, ‘please come close to me’. When they approached him, he said, ‘I am Joseph your brother – it is me whom you sold into Egypt.”


“’Now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourself for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you … G-d has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance.”


Joseph first points out the obvious truth that they had consciously made the horrifying decision to sell him into slavery in Egypt; then he proceeds to call it G-d's will.


Why the switch?


Once Joseph had achieved the closure that came with his victimizer's contrition, after he saw how they were emotionally tortured by the pain they had caused him, he was able to unshackle himself of their deeds and move on with his life's work.


Stepping forward into the next chapter of his life, Joseph's pressing focus wasn't on his past victimhood, it was on the question: How does G-d want me to use my present situation to better the world?


When the moment was right, Joseph turned himself from a victim into a victor.


There's surviving. Then there's thriving.


Joseph thrived, and we are Joseph. As a Jewish nation, we have embodied the strength Joseph exhibits, building up our homeland from a place of victimhood. And it couldn’t have been built without the help of JNF and all we do.


Shabbat Shalom.