Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:



If you can believe it, spring training has started for Major League Baseball, which means Jewish National Fund is getting ready to launch our annual Spring Campaign effort.  March is the end of our second fiscal quarter.  At the halfway point of our campaign year, we need to be at a minimum of 60% of our goal by the end of March if we are to be on track to reach our annual goal.  It’s a good time for each community to do an assessment of their status.  As a lay and professional team, review your local Campaign Progress Report and look at your status for each campaign division compared to the same date last year, as well as against your annual goal.  Review donors who made gifts at this time last year who have not yet made their annual gift.  And of course, discuss potential new donors and who is the best lay leader or professional to do the solicitation.  Our General Campaign team will soon roll out our annual Spring Campaign effort which focuses on closing existing donors and bringing in new gifts at the $1,000 + level.  Stay tuned for more information.




I previously reported on the work of our General Campaign team, led by Bob Cohan of Boston and Bob Weiss from Brooklyn with professional support by Deb Rochford, to develop ideas to increase the number of donors contributing $1,000 or more. One of those ideas has come to fruition with the development of a list of options for donors to designate their funds for gifts of $1,800 to $5,000. In the past, only gifts of $5,000 or more were eligible to be designated to specific projects or programs. For the initial roll out, we are focusing on three program areas:  Special Needs, Heritage Sites, and Youth Leadership. Please take a look at the attached flyers. Additional affiliates and program areas will be added during this campaign year. These flyers and giving opportunities were developed to be used in conjunction with community visits by our JNF affiliates for parlor-type meetings or even one-on-one solicitations. It will strengthen the message, and we believe will increase support by connecting donors at this giving level with something specific. For example, “with a gift of $1,800 you can provide a scholarship for…”  I want to thank Bob Weiss, Bob Cohan, and Deb Rochford, as well as the JNF Marketing Department for their diligent and creative work. We will monitor the impact of this new concept during this campaign year.




Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster inclusion of people with disabilities and those who love them. JDAAIM is a call to action for all of us as we act in accordance with our Jewish values, honoring the gifts and strengths that we each possess.


Thanks to three generous donors, all gifts made in February will be matched, up to $1,000,000, from now through February 29, 2020 to benefit our work for people with disabilities in Israel. JNF believes that we can ensure that each and every Israeli enjoys a life of dignity, belonging and purpose. Person by person, family by family, community by community, JNF is changing the lives of Israelis with disabilities. To donate, click here






The annual Campaign Planning Summit will take place Sunday, August 23 and Monday, August 24 at the Ronald S. Lauder JNF House in New York City.


We will start Sunday afternoon and conclude with lunch on Monday. There is a national Board of Directors meeting from 1:00 – 3:00 pm on Monday, and all Summit participants are invited and encouraged to attend. The Campaign Planning Summit provides an opportunity for lay leaders to have a voice in the direction of our campaign initiatives for the coming year. More information, including preferred hotel, will be available soon.



If you are registered for National Conference, if you have not already, you should soon receive an e-mail inviting you to go on-line to make hotel reservations for one of the conference hotels. There are now 550 registered for the 2020 National Conference taking place in Israel this October 25 – 29. We are well on our way to reach our goal to bring 1,000 people to Israel for the Conference. A friendly competition is underway among local communities for who can bring the most to Israel. Program planning is well underway and we will update you as more details are released. However, you can visit jnf.org/nc to see the latest on the program. Register now!


Shabbat Shalom,


    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

National Service at the Heritage Sites



This month, JNF's affiliate Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites is getting ready for next year's National Service volunteer program. Young men and women who cannot serve in the IDF and want to give back to their country are invited to apply for the National Service course and program and serve as guides in heritage sites around the country including Atlit Detention Camp and Kinneret Courtyard in the north, Mikveh Israel in Central Israel, Minkov Orchard Site in Rehovot, Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, and many others. Through guiding, the volunteers are able to serve their country in a manner more suitable to their needs and also learn about the importance of preservation and conservation, the history of museums, the history and heritage of Israeli Society, and much more.


Special in the IDF




This week, Jewish National Fund affiliate Special in Uniform soldiers helped the IDF to dispose of old computer hardware with highly sensitive data. The soldiers used the parts to make artwork at the base, covering an old helicopter with the circuit board.   



Update from the Western Galilee




The main highlight of this week was the IMTM tourism expo, where the team spent 2 days in our booth in Tel Aviv, meeting hundreds of journalists, tourist operators, tour guides and colleagues from Israel and around the world. We had a great booth with colleagues from our region.  Assaf Lavie, owner of Malka Brewery was with us and no-one got draft beer if they didn't leave their contact details - needless to say - it was a success! Also, the Regional Mayor of Matte Asher, Moshe Davidovitch, and Mayor Arcadi Pomerantz of Maalot Tarshicha came to visit us at the booth. We also met some JNF affiliates and that always feels like family! 

D’Var Torah

Lynne Merriam, lay leader and one of the founding members of JNF's Task Force on Disabilities, shared with me the following prayer she wrote. It is a beautiful and powerful testament to a mother’s love.:

Prayer for Mothers with Handicapped Children

“I watch my son, confident and tall

Standing on the bimah

Sharing memories of his Jewish experiences

Praying at the Western Wall

Standing under the chuppah

Naming his daughter

The bris for the son

And my heart fills with joy

The Jewish mother’s dream L’dor vador

But there is the other son

The son whose words are locked in silence

The son who will not marry

Who will have no children to carry on his name

With a sense of sadness, I ask why

But we are not alone, we mothers of the “different” child

Although the differences are many, the sadness is the same

The sadness of lost hopes, lost joy, and guilt

And always asking why

But faith in Judaism gives us a foundation

Our faith gives us a “family”

To look beyond lost opportunities

To find new ways to look at the world

Our faith in Judaism provides solace, comfort and support

G-D, please bless us and give us the courage and

Strength to meet life’s challenges and to always find

comfort in the embrace of our Jewish faith”


February was not chosen as Jewish Disability Awareness Month at random. It was chosen because of this week’s Torah portion.


Now that the Jews have received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai (in last week's parashat Yitro) and accepted the Torah, G-d teaches them the laws therein. In this week’s parshahat, Mishpatim, we learn that The Torah demands that we be extra nice to strangers, widows and orphans. These people are deemed vulnerable and therefore especially deserving of our kindness.


There is a detail included in this instruction however, that is confusing. What should one make of the discussion of a Ger and its placement adjacent to the discussion of traditionally venerated widows and orphans?


In modern Hebrew the word Ger means convert; but that could not be the Torah’s meaning here. The children of Israel were already saved. Therefore, in this context, Ger is often understood to mean a stranger or person who is different. When God created us in his image, He could have chosen to make us all the same with the same strengths and weaknesses, the same looks and the same ideas, but He did not.  By choosing to make each of us unique, He signified the importance and the power of our uniqueness.  Our difference, that which makes us strange to others, is precisely what allows us to see the world from alternative perspectives and find solutions to challenging situations, while growing in the process. 


While differences can be a person’s biggest asset, it is also a vulnerability as articulated in Mishpatim. When faced with a stranger, or a person who is different, whatever the cause of that difference, we should not punish them for that difference but embrace them as we would want to be embraced.


February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, and during this month we call special attention to the need for the Jewish world to do more to include members of our community with special needs, to make them feel at home, to make them feel welcome, to make them feel loved by people as they are loved by G-d.  Through accessibility and therapeutic services, JNF partners work tirelessly to empower all the disabled and differently-abled people of Israel.


Alexander Muss High School in Israel

This week, students from our February session went to Belvoir, where they swam in Hamat Gader and explored Tzfat. They also spent time at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, packed food for needy families at Yad Ezra VeShulamit, and participated in an archaeological dig in Emek Tzurim. 



Travel & Tours

Capture your forever young hearts and minds on the Sunshine Tour: For Active Adults 55+, a  carefully paced, life-changing, 10-day excursion. Learn more here

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.

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.