Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:


Happy Chanukah!



I’m sure you are aware that December is the most important month of giving, not just for Jewish National Fund, but for all non-profits. Nearly one-third of annual giving occurs in December with 12% coming in the last week of the month. In addition to our strong effort through direct mail and our presence on the internet and social media, we count on JNF leaders like you to help us reach out to our typical end-of-year donors. Donors who give $500 or more deserve a phone call, and if possible, a meeting to let them know how much we appreciate their support and to provide them with a report on JNF’s work. The solicitation is the easy part… “Thank you for your support. Can we count on you again? Will you consider a gift of $_____.” That’s it. So, can I count on you?


We had a great week of fundraising, with nearly $5 million closed in just the last week. We are just under $555 million toward our $1 billion goal. Let’s keep up the great work!



Here is a more thorough breakdown on our Giving Tuesday totals since my report last week:

  • $290,000     Online giving
  • $820,000     Events across the country
  • $800,000     Direct pledges
  • $1,150,000  Matching gifts from Ronald S. Lauder, the Gene and Marlene Epstein Humanitarian Fund, and Bob Lembke

We are still waiting for a full report from Facebook on gifts made through that platform.

Total to date:  $3,060,000


At one time Giving Tuesday was a nice marketing campaign to encourage people to be charitable following the consumerism of Black Friday and holiday shopping. Now we can see that it is becoming a significant revenue generator for Jewish National Fund.



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 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/D.C., 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 and Chag Chanukah Sameach!





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).

Alexander Muss High School in Israel


Chanukah is a special time on our campus and for our teens. On this holiday, as we kindle the lights of the candles, we celebrate our own miracles—our students. We are so proud of our 28,000 alumni and our role in creating the next generation of Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel.

Travel & Tours Update


See a different side of Israel with your peers on this multi-themed trip, open to JNFuture members ages 25 to 40. Choose from three exciting program options: Food, Wine, & Culture Experience; JNFuture Active Mission (JAM); or Positively Israel Experience. Learn More.

Updates from Israel

Special in the IDF

Chanukah is the holiday where the light shines during the darkest time of the year, and we can’t think of those who need it more right now than the brave men and women who protect the land and people of Israel - Special in Uniform soldiers serving proudly in the IDF and doing everything they can to help the Army.

Planting the Land

This week, 150 volunteers planted 28,000 new trees in two days on a previously empty field. The group consisted of a High School from the Golan Heights, a Special Forces team from the Air Force, a group of at-risk students, and participants of JNF partner HaShomer HaChadash’s Young Leadership program. This was a diverse group that HaShomer HaChadash organized within a few days of the farmers' call for help. For HaShomer HaChadash, it was a multi-faceted opportunity: to help create real roots in a complex area of the country, for each volunteer to create a stronger bond to the land of Israel with each tree that they planted, and to show the farmers the meaning of a strong nation that has a feeling of mutual responsibility and understands the importance of being connected to the Land of Israel.

Chanukah at the Heritage Sites

Heritage sites across Israel have been busy celebrating Chanukah with a wide variety of holiday-themed tours and events. At Yellin House at Motza outside of Jerusalem, children and families participated in a “Make Your Own Menorah” workshop, while Naharayim at Old Gesher, a popular site in the Upper Galilee, hosted a donut-decorating extravaganza every day during the holiday. Ben Gurion’s Desert Home in Sde Boker hosted a “Presidents and Prime Ministers” themed Escape Room and a scavenger hunt following in the footsteps of Prime Minister Ben Gurion’s heroes. In Rehovot, families at the Minkov Citrus Orchard Museum were able to watch a special audio-visual show in the restored citrus packing house and make a Menorah out of grapefruit. Other heritage sites, including Mikveh Israel, the HaReut Museum, and others hosted myriad events, from candle-lightings to nighttime lantern tours. Chanukah at the heritage sites was a truly unique way to celebrate the Festival of Lights, the story of the Maccabees, and Israel’s modern-day heroes.

D’Var Torah

"People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, BUT people will never forget how you made them feel."

This is a quote from the kindergarten teacher of Gan Nitzan in Halutza to JNF CEO Russell Robinson during his visit there this past Friday and in the spirit of the first candle of Chanukah.


I was thinking about it when I was reading this week's parasha, Mikeitz. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, has two dreams. In the first, he sees himself standing over the Nile River, where seven fat cows emerge from the river followed by seven thin cows. The thin cows proceed to swallow the fat ones, yet they remain just as thin as before. In his second dream, Pharaoh sees seven thin, shriveled ears of grain swallow seven fat ears of grain.


None of the wise men of Egypt could offer Pharaoh a satisfactory interpretation of his dreams. Finally, Joseph is summoned from his dungeon, he interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty, symbolized by the fat cows and fat grain, will be followed by seven years of hunger, reflected by the lean cows and the shriveled ears. The seven years of famine will be so powerful that they will "swallow up" and obliterate any trace of the years of plenty.


Joseph then advises Pharaoh to prepare for the looming crisis by stockpiling food during the years of plenty and then rationing it out during the famine. Pharaoh is blown away by Joseph's vision. "Can there be another person who has G-d's spirit in him as this man does?" he asks his advisors. He appoints Joseph viceroy of Egypt, and the rest is history.


Joseph’s true brilliance demonstrates how it remains as relevant as ever to each of us struggling to survive our own private ‘years of famine.’ In our own lives we all experience cycles of plenty and cycles of famine. There are times when things are going very well, we are healthy, successful and comfortable. And there are times of recession and challenges, when curve balls come our way. Joseph taught us how we must prepare in our years of plenty for our years of famine.


Interestingly, the Haftorah reading for Mikeitz is from the book of Zechariah. Zechariah, who lived in the 6th century BCE, prophesied the return of the Israelites to their Homeland after they had been exiled by the Babylonians. Among his many visions, Zechariah saw a menorah, flanked on both sides by olive branches, and he heard an angel explaining to him that this vision meant the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 422 BCE, should now be rebuilt “not by might, not by power, but by the spirit of G d."  Zechariah's vision is one of most powerful images of prophecy. It continues to have profound significance for us today. More than ever, we see darkness fill our world. But fighting darkness is a tough battle which leaves darkness within. JNF doesn't fight darkness, we just add light. A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness. Something we so clearly see during these days of Chanukah.


Shabbat Shalom and happy Chanukah.