Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:

I am writing to you from Israel where JNF has a number of Task Force groups traveling around the country meeting with our partners: The H2O mission and our Water Task Force, the Israel Independence Experience Task Force and the Nefesh B’Nefesh Task Force are all in Israel right now learning how their committees can make an impact. 

Jewish National Fund is a unique organization; I know of no other non-profit, Jewish or otherwise, where donors have the opportunity to fully participate in the development of projects and programs as is the case at JNF.   Task Force members develop a deep understanding of the issues and opportunities in their respective areas of interest, they help us understand how JNF’s dollars can make the most impact toward our vision of increasing population in the North and South and, most importantly, task forces help raise the dollars necessary to help us achieve our vision. 

Click here for a list of JNF task forces and if you are interested in learning more, let me or your local JNF professional know and we will put you in touch with the task force chair.

The clock is ticking toward the end of the calendar year… have you made your annual gift to JNF? Also, local boards should be reviewing lists of typical End of Year donors who have not yet made their annual gift to JNF.  Please take a few pledge cards and make a few phone calls.

Shabbat Shalom,

Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign

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 lent 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 Jewish National Fund 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.

JNF Speakers Bureau

Jewish National Fund has one of the top Speakers Bureaus in the country! Please take a moment to review the December Speakers Bureau newsletter, which highlights speakers who will be available over the next several months. View the calendar.


On this week’s episode of IsraelCast, we welcome Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the president of Shurat HaDin, a Tel- Aviv-based law center that represents the families of hundreds of terrorist attack victims in lawsuits world-wide.  Nitsana was recognized by Forbes Israel as one of the 50 most-influential Israeli women of 2016, and by the Jerusalem Post as one of the most influential Jews. Together with special operations and counter terrorism experts, Nitsana recently co-authored Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism's Money Masters with Shmuel Katz. Click here to listen.


Dedication of the Biblical Gardens

Last Tuesday, JNF held a festive dedication at LOTEM for the biblical gardens, which were generously donated by Susan and Ben Gutmann. The gardens consist of three paths: the path of the Jewish calendar, the path of trees and vegetation, and the path of creation. Each path emphasizes a different approach to special needs education and includes learning stations, sensory experiences, and more traditional hiking experiences. During the dedication, the Gutmanns and other participants enjoyed the experience of hiking in the path of creation, which is the only challenging hike accessible for wheelchairs in Israel. Along the impressive trail, which blends into a magical Israeli landscape, there are six stops, each of which is a learning station about one day of creation, that engages in experiential learning through illustration and activity. To operate the trail, LOTEM needs five  all-terrain wheelchairs, at a cost of $ 20,000 each. The first chair was donated by Bob and Johan Oppenheimer, whose daughter is married to the Guttmanns’ son!

Special in the IDF

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, welcomed soldiers with disabilities from Jewish National Fund partner Special in Uniform to mark International Disabled Persons Day on December 3.. Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum met with the Special in Uniform delegation, telling them, “In Israel there are over 1.6 million people with disabilities. We are doing the right thing by welcoming people with disabilities into the Army.”

Leaders of the Land

Jewish National Fund partner Hashomer Hachadash received this note from the mother of a participant in the Leaders of the Land high school program: “I am writing as a mother and friend and am trying to summarize correctly how, why, and when we made the decision to send our daughter Ziv to Leads of the Land High School. This place in Hatzeva is the truest connection we found, which speaks our language, does not give up on hard work, offers the best teachers and staff, and does agricultural work that strengthens each student on a daily basis.”

Human Resources Forum

This week, JNF partner Eretz Ir’s Human Resources Forum met for the sixth time. The forum includes HR managers from several dozen large companies in the Negev, and provides them with resources and training. The meeting was hosted by forum members at tech company Wix, who also discussed their corporate HR practices. Additionally, members learned about sexual harassment in the workplace and were able to ask many questions of experts in the field.