Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:


$12 million.  Just $12 million more and we will reach the $500 million mark and the half way point to our $1 Billion goal.  But I need your help to reach our goal. 

As you know, we are in the middle of our annual Chai at $1,000 campaign where we aim to close 1,800 gifts of $1,000 or more during our second fiscal quarter. I’m not going to lie to you, we’re a little behind last year’s pace at closing these gifts. We set an ambitious goal to close 2,000 gifts during this three-month period, and we are 300 gift units behind where we need to be.  While it seems like a big number, as a national organization, if we break it down by community, reaching our goal could simply mean closing twenty more gifts in each community. That is it. Just 20 more gifts per community and we can get back on track.  So, can I count on each of you to take just two pledge cards and make a phone call, or, even better, get together with a past donor over a cup of coffee and give them an update on JNF?  If you don’t feel comfortable making the ask, bring your local JNF professional fundraiser with you, or perhaps one of our outstanding Makor members.

Will you be going to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C. March 4 – 6?  I will be there along with hundreds of JNF major donors and lay leaders as well as several JNF partners.  While the conference has a packed agenda I would love the opportunity to meet with you and introduce you to some of our partners who are also attending.  PLEASE E-MAIL LYNNE YURA AT LYURA@JNF.ORG TO LET ME KNOW YOU ARE ATTENDING AND I’LL REACH OUT TO YOU IN ADVANCE TO FIND TIME TO MEET IN D.C.

Next week is Purim so I want to wish you all a Chag Purim Sameach, and please, let this be a Shabbat of peace.

Shabbat Shalom,



Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign

D’Var Torah

By Yossi Kahana

This week's parshat Tetzaveh tells us some more about the goings-on of the Mishkan. The first thing discussed is the olive oil used for the lighting of the menorah.

One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple.

It has been said that the menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel and its mission to be "a light unto the nations.”  The sages emphasize that light is not a violent force; Israel is to accomplish its mission by setting an example, not by using force. The menorah of the Temple evokes the image of a tree—a tree of life, a tree of light and a tree of fire, while the oil with which it was kindled represents the constancy of the light.

Many generations after the destruction of the Temple, the prophet Zechariah saw a vision of a menorah. It was flanked on either side by olive trees feeding it directly with oil, while the voice of an angel explained that the Temple would be rebuilt, "Not by might, not by power but by the spirit of G‑d".

Even after the Temple was destroyed the menorah remains a symbol of bringing this "spirit of light" to the world.

The State of Israel is one of only two countries in the world that ended the 20th century with more trees than it started with, thanks to the efforts of the Jewish National Fund in planting more than 260 million trees. This incredible achievement brings new life to the ancient words of the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 25:3): Rabbi Yehuda ben Shimon began, “You shall emulate the Lord your God.’ Is it possible for flesh and blood to emulate the Almighty?... What this means is that in the beginning [of creation], God engaged in planting; similarly “You shall come into the Land, and you shall plant.”

Many of the serious environmental concerns that now face the global community – scarcity of water, addiction to oil, and degradation of arable land – have confronted the State of Israel since its inception. Applying Jewish ingenuity to our biblical mandate to “work and guard the land” is now providing the answers to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The prophet Isaiah wrote long ago that one day, "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom" (Isaiah 35:1). Our generation has been privileged to witness not only the miracle of the blooming of Israel’s deserts, but the emergence of the Jewish State as a global leader in environmental innovation. Concern for the environment helps bring the Torah to life and, to paraphrase Isaiah, casts the Jewish people as a “renewable” light unto the nations.

Shabbat Shalom,


JNF’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel

Last weekend, Alexander Muss High School in Israel presented at Tzofim Machane Shachbag and BBYO International Convention, two of the most influential gatherings for North American Jewish teens. AMHSI recruitment staff and educators were busy connecting with alumni and spreading the word about the only pluralist Jewish high school study abroad experience in Israel. Meanwhile, on campus this week, we welcomed a new group of students from our long-time partner Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD.

Travel & Tours News

Join Jewish National Fund for its inaugural VIP Tech Tour and see firsthand the groundbreaking technological innovations emanating from the “Start-Up Nation.” Gain insight into various fields of technology including Cyber Security, Robotics, Predictive Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and more on this VIP tour. See firsthand JNF’s role in supporting the development of the country.

Updates from Israel

Food Safety and Security

The Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT) organized a very interesting professional conference about Food Safety and Security. This well attended event was held in English, and everyone left more knowledgeable about the subject.

Central Arava Celebrates Arava Open Day

The Central Arava celebrated Arava Open Day in early February. Watch the highlights here.

Therapeutic Riding

Jewish National Fund partner Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center is thrilled to announce a new member of the family, as Wendy, one of their beloved ponies, gave birth to a beautiful foal.

Learning About Bedouin Society

Many in Israel know little about Bedouin Society. Last week, a group from Israel Tech Challenge visited Eretz-Ir's NetGev Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Bedouin township of Hura. Visitors learned about the exciting opportunities available for peripheral residents at our NetGev centers in Hura, Dimona, and Arad. NetGev Entrepreneur Nohad Abu Alkayn spoke about how remote employment and tech jobs are revolutionizing opportunities for young Bedouins. 

“Treasure Hunt” at the Ayalon Institute

Every year the Ayalon Institute Bullet Factory hosts more than 15,000 Israeli students. As part of the development of the site, and in order to teach students about Ayalon Institute’s important story in an interesting and engaging way, the site has created a modern and high-tech “Treasure Hunt” activity. This activity, designed for Israeli students in grades 4-7, allows children to guide themselves through the site. Using a QR code application, students explore the site, answering questions which lead them on a “treasure hunt” throughout the old "kibbutz". All of the questions are based off the students’ tour of the "kibbutz" and the underground factory.

Leaders of the Land

This week the students from the 11th and 12th grades of Jewish National Fund partner Hashomer HaChadash’s Leaders of the Land High School in the Arava started their week-long trip to Poland. Similar to most high schools in Israel, they will visit concentration camps, the Warsaw ghetto, Jewish cemeteries and memorials throughout Poland, including Yanush Kortchak's Orphanage in Warsaw. We are proud and wish them a meaningful trip!

Special in the IDF

During his visit in Eilat, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with Shai Levi. Shai was born two months premature, and because oxygen was cut off from his brain at birth, he developed Cerebral Palsy, a condition that left him physically disabled. In spite of what some people would see as a limitation, Shai enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces through Jewish National Fund partner Special in Uniform. Shai takes on key roles in the IDF such as analyzing visual data and deciphering satellite photos.