Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:


I want to wish you and your families a very Happy Hanukkah.  Please read this update to the end including the very special D’var Torah from Yossi Kahana.


For your enjoyment, here is Adam Sandler’s fourth version of his popular Hanukkah song. https://youtu.be/6YSOZP_M6eM




We have raised more than $645.5 million toward our $1 billion goal and are at $25.5 million for our 2020 annual campaign.


To be on pace to reach our annual campaign goal, every community should be at 30% of their goal by the end of our 1st fiscal quarter on December 31. As you know, and as we have articulated in the 2020 Campaign Plan, each fiscal quarter does not realize equal revenue. The 1st quarter is one of our strongest, so if we aren’t ahead of pace by the end of the calendar year, it is hard to make up ground. I am asking each community to do a review of your current campaign compared to your annual goal.




As you know, we are always trying to keep up with the latest and most effective ways to communicate with our donors. As such, we are communicating moving more and more with our donors via text. It is a timely, effective, concise and faster-read means of delivering information in today’s busy world, and we are careful to use it judiciously. As a member of our leadership team, it is important that you are opted in to receive these texts. Please text JNF to 563-872 which will opt you in.




The single largest project in the history of JNF-USA is the Israel Education and Technology Campus in Be’er Sheva. This $300 million dollar campus will have several functions: a second home for the Alexander Muss High School, an adult Zionist education and conference center and a campus for young adults in Israel for technology internships. The campus will be situated on 16 acres of land within the Be’er Sheva River Park. As you can imagine, with a capital project of this magnitude, there are significant naming opportunities. A feasibility study was just completed by KPMG and fundraising is just now getting underway. To learn more about this exciting and transformational project, watch this video: https://youtu.be/pdxJzoDpQHU



I am happy to report that nearly 400 people have already registered for the 2020 National Conference taking place in Israel from October 25-29.  We are well on our way to reach our goal of bringing 1,000 people to Israel for the Conference.  A friendly competition is underway among local communities for who can bring the most to Israel.  Register now!  The sooner you register the more you will save.  To learn more about NC 2020 in Israel, click here: jnf.org/nc

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!


    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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Updates from Israel


News from the Western Galilee


The Western Galilee Winter Festival is upon us and we are very busy with executing our last minute marketing strategy. Many of the events are already sold out! Also new this past week, Western Galilee Now attended a meeting at the Galilee Authority regarding tourism and culture in the whole Galilee. All regional councils, cities, and organizations were invited to better coordinate events and festivals. This is a great new initiative.



Special in the IDF




In 2006, the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. More than 90 countries signed the act, committing to increase social inclusion. Last week the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited a group of 22 journalists, bloggers and public opinion leaders from Europe and North America for a weeklong visit to Israel. The focus was on social innovation and progressive policy. JNF’s Special in Uniform was chosen to be the lead organization of the group. 


The 5th Annual Preservation Conference


The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, a Jewish National Fund affiliate, took part in the 5th annual International Exposition and Conference of Building & Sites Conservation. The conference is a chance for professionals in the field of preservation to showcase their work and accomplishments. This year’s theme focused on the role of heritage preservation in urban renewal. Like previous years, the conference was attended by over 1,200 people, including professionals from Italy, Portugal, and other countries in addition to many Israeli contingents. It was a great platform for SPIHS to share its work with and learn from other people and organizations in the preservation field in order to continue to preserve and share Israel’s heritage sites.

D’Var Torah


This Shabbat we will experience Parshat Vayeishev. This is the story of Joseph (and his “fine woolen coat”) in which sibling rivalry and some big dreams would change history and inspire an entire people.


In Joseph’s story, deception has taken place and he has been sold into slavery. To cover up their actions, the brothers dipped his "fine woolen 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 surely been torn to pieces." Jacob then rented 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 be reconciled to loss -- and to gain closure is a kind of betrayal. 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 must continue to live the spirit of this phrase in a world bearing scar upon scar from violence, poverty and injustice. We can grieve these things, but not with any finality. We must not give in to a desire for closure. We must not give up hope.


The very mission of JNF symbolizes hope in the future. More than 3000 years after Joseph and his dreams, there was another dreamer. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, dreamt to develop the Negev. In 1955, he challenged his people to develop the Negev and make it flourish. Every day JNF is working to make David Ben-Gurion’s dream a reality. JNF is the embodiment of hope to improve the quality of life for all the inhabitants of Israel. And while everyday life in Israel is rife with complexities and competing issues, JNF offers a practical opportunity to leave a legacy of hope and belief in the future.



Shabbat Shalom,







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.


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

Alexander Muss High School in Israel


Our 250 Australian students are busy exploring Israel and experiencing the Muss Magic. Our Fall Semester group is in the midst of final exams and are preparing for their return home. They have spent the past 4 months with us and we can't believe their time in Israel is coming to a close.


Please help us with our records! Be sure to share with us college details for any AMHSI-JNF alumni that you know so that we can send them a special campus care package filled with fun goodies and programming information. You are welcome to fill out this short form:  https://bit.ly/2rQdeHv


Please note that the next round of campus care packages will be sent in the Fall of 2020.


Travel & Tours Update

Discover Israel’s rich history, heritage, and culture on a meaningful journey exploring the country from north to south. Learn more about the Spirit of Israel Tour here.

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