Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:


I hope you’ve all enjoyed your winter holiday so far.   While many of us have had the good fortune to have some R&R in warm climates, the JNF team has been hard at work reaching out to donors who have not yet made a gift in calendar year 2018.



I am thrilled to report to you that because of the strong pace of our campaign, and a few significant gifts that were closed in the last week, we are on the verge of having a $30 million first quarter.  This has been a record setting quarter, and if we are to become a sustainable annual campaign of $100 million or more, we will need this kind of production throughout the year.  We are now at $566,275,000 toward our $1 billion goal.  We are doing very well, and we should all be proud that our hard work of telling the JNF story and cultivating donor relationships is paying dividends.  Thank you all!



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.  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 on-line 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 and have a very happy and safe New Year!








Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign

National Conference 2019

Early birds get the worm! Act now to take advantage of Early Bird Rates for National Conference, this September 13-16 in Washington, D.C. Registration prices increase in January. Register at jnf.org/nc. And, you're not going to want to miss JNF's 2020 National Conference in Israel from October 25-29, 2020 (with an optional pre-conference mission to Morocco).

IsraelCast Update

This week we welcomed our two-time guest, Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boite NY! This time, he talks further about the new International Institute of Culinary Arts he is planning with Jewish National Fund in the Upper Eastern Galilee. Don’t miss this fascinating conversation, available at jnf.org/israelcast or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Alexander Muss High School in Israel



We welcomed a group from the Weber School in Atlanta last week, which brought our student body total up to 315 students from across the U.S. and Australia! Our December mini-mester students had a great day volunteering at Yad La'Kashish, working with elderly people with disabilities and packaging food for the hungry at Pantry Packers. Then the time came to say L’hitraot to our Fall Semester students, who wrapped up their 18 weeks with us on campus and headed home earlier this week.  Completing our most robust academic program, they’ve been with us since September. This group experienced our signature Israel Studies program, using the land of Israel as a living classroom, in addition to having completed a full semester of General Studies courses, and made new friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Listen to stories of these adventures and more on our #MussMagic podcast. Two new episodes just posted!

Travel & Tours Update


Discover Israel’s rich history, heritage, and culture while exploring the country from north to south on the Spirit of Israel tour, this May 12 – 20, 2019. Learn more

Updates from Israel

Successful Rescue in the Arava


Saturday afternoon the Arava Rescue Unit volunteers received a call of distress from a group of hikers. A woman had fallen down a creek, and was apparently badly wounded.  While driving and then running into the rough terrain of the Masor Mountain, they called the airborne unit of 669 to assist with a helicopter. The wounded woman was lucky the Rescue Unit was able to reach her in time and she was evacuated to Soroka hospital in Be’er Sheva for emergency surgery for a head injury and crushed bones. The members of the unit then escorted the rest of the hiking group back to their bus under a full moon; another successful and lifesaving rescue was completed. 

Connecting to the Land


This week HaShomer HaChadash had the privilege of hosting several JNF groups at farms in southern Israel. The Alternative Winter Break and JNF Volunteer Vacation groups helped farmers of the Negev and Arava in various agricultural jobs -- from planting beets to weeding broccoli and working in the onions fields. Most importantly they learned about the JNF-HaShomer partnership and created a stronger connection to the land! 

Special in the IDF


Jewish National Fund and the Kulanu Academy in New York launched a partnership in support of Kulanu Ba’aretz, a joint, three month vocational-educational study program in Israel for young men and women with special needs ages 17-22. The program is geared towards individuals who want to spend an unforgettable semester living, working, studying, growing, and touring in Israel.  With JNF’s partnership, Kulanu Ba’aretz was able this week to give a unique opportunity for the group to join Special in Uniform for army training, where they developed new skills, built self-esteem and independence, made new friends, and grew in a physically and emotionally safe environment. 

Business Entrepreneurship in Arad


Arad is the home to a rapidly growing, insular ultra-Orthodox community that typically shies away from technology and traditional industry. All of Israel's residents should benefit from being part of the start-up nation, so we are thrilled to share that a new business entrepreneurship course in partnership with Maof - The Ministry for Small Businesses - began this week at Netgev Arad. The course is designed to fit the needs of ultra-Orthodox women entrepreneurs, and will take place weekly over the next four months.

International Exposition and Conference of Buildings & Sites


Last week, the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) took part in the 4th International Exposition and Conference of Building & Sites, an annual conference hosted in Tel Aviv. This year, the conference focused on “Conservation as Part of Sustainable Planning,” and featured several lectures and exhibits by experts in the field of conservation, including presentations from SPIHS and other key players in Israel and from Portugal, Italy, and Belgium. Around 1,500 people attended this year’s conference. It was a great opportunity to share the important work of preserving Israel’s heritage sites.  

D’Var Torah

A Jewish mother walks her son to the school bus on his first day of preschool. "Please behave, sweetie," she says.
"Darling, take good care of yourself and think about your mother who is waiting for you! And come right back home on the bus, my love... Remember, honey, your Mommy loves you a lot!"
At the end of the school day, the bus returns. She runs to her son and hugs him. "So what did the love of my life learn on his first day of school?" she asks.
"I learned that my name is David..."
The second book of the Torah is called "Shemot"—the Book of Names. The simple reason for this unusual name is that this book opens with the word "names" in its opening line: "Now these are the names of the children of Israel..." (Exodus 1:1).
Now this is quite intriguing. Why name an entire book after the seemingly coincidental use of a word in its opening line? Wouldn't it be more logical to name it after its storyline and theme, as it is referred to in most English bibles: the Book of Exodus?
But here lies an important lesson about the Jewish approach to the individual member of the community. The second book of the Torah introduces us to the very first Jewish community—the new nation of Israel. This book's narrative tells how in a very short period of time the relatively small family of Jacob described in the previous book, Genesis, successfully transformed and proliferated into a quantitatively fruitful nation. Yet, despite this amazing numeric growth, the Torah reminds us not to forget that each individual person has a name and must be recognized and respected. Maturing into a large nation should not translate into, G d forbid, neglecting the needs of the individual, or treating him or her like a number or statistic.
Like the young boy who learned that his name was David, we too must treat each and every one of our children as a unique personality and help them discover their uniqueness. They each have a name and talents that are uniquely theirs. We should never lump our children together. Likewise, when dealing with the greater community, we must appreciate the diversity of the different members that make up the community and find creative ways to utilize and enlist the diverse talents of the community.
This all begins with viewing each individual as a person with a name, not just a number! 
Mazal tov to Jessica Milstein, Director, Community Campaign, for receiving her Jewish (Hebrew) name, Yael (Yael was one of the famous women in the Bible). Receiving a Jewish name is a big step in your life. You will now become much more connected to your soul, whose powers will be expressed in the Hebrew letters of your new name.
Shabbat Shalom,