Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:


In Memoriam
It is with a heavy heart I share with you the loss of a dear friend to JNF and a great leader.  Ellen Rosenberg passed away this week following a brave fight to overcome a disease she battled with grace and dignity. Ellen was a donor to JNF for thirty years, and for the last decade she was an active JNF leader serving in many capacities, including President of the Baltimore Board of Directors, national JNF Board of Directors, chair of MAKOR, Assistant Vice President of the JNF Legal Committee, member of the Nefesh B’nefesh Task Force and co-Chair of the 2015 National Conference in Chicago.  She leaves behind her incredible husband Cary, her two devoted children, Hal and Shira, and two wonderful grandchildren. May the entire Rosenberg, Blatt and Besmenoff families be comforted amongst the Mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.  Those wishing to make a contribution in Ellen’s memory may do so by clicking here.

There is a lot of understandable confusion about how the new tax bill will affect each of us personally and also charities that rely on the generosity of donors, such as  Jewish National Fund.  Yes, there are many people who consider tax deductibility as a motivation for charitable giving, but studies show that the vast majority of donors are not motivated by tax benefits, but rather, because of their belief in the mission of the organization and their personal satisfaction from giving.
Attached is a good article from Crain’s Chicago Business that discusses the motivations of charitable giving.  This article, and the study it references, should give us every reason to believe the JNF annual campaign will continue to move forward  with strength.
The 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, conducted in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy survey revealed the following motivations for giving:

  • Belief in the mission of the organization - 54% of respondents
  • Personal satisfaction, enjoyment or Fulfillment from giving - 39%
  • Tax benefits - 18%

You can view the full study by clicking on this link:  2016 U.S. Trust Study


Shabbat Shalom,
Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign

D’Var Torah

By Yossi Kahana

In this week’s Parsha, Vayigash, we read the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers after decades of bitter separation. This is, no doubt, one of the most dramatic stories in the entire Torah. Twenty-two years earlier, when Joseph was 17-years-old, his brothers, despising their younger kin, kidnapped him, threw him into a pit, and then sold him as a slave to Egyptian merchants. In Egypt, he spent 12 years in prison, from where he rose to become viceroy of the country that was the superpower at the time. Now, more than two decades later, the time was right for reconciliation.

"Joseph could not hold in his emotions," the Torah relates in this week's portion. “He dismissed all of his Egyptian assistants from his chamber, thus, no one else was present with Joseph when he revealed himself to his brothers. He began to weep with such loud sobs that the Egyptians outside could hear him. And Joseph said to his brothers: 'I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?' His brothers were so horrified that they could not respond.

“Joseph said to his brothers, ‘please come close to me’. When they approached him, he said, ‘I am Joseph your brother – it is me whom you sold into Egypt.

“Now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourself for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you …G-d has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance.”

Joseph first points out the obvious truth that they had consciously made the horrifying decision to sell him into slavery in Egypt; then he proceeds to call it G-d's will.

Why the switch?

Once Joseph had achieved the closure that came with his victimizers’ contrition, after he saw how they were emotionally tortured by the pain they had caused him, he was able to unshackle himself of their deeds and move on with his life's work.

Stepping forward into the next chapter of his life, Joseph's pressing focus wasn't on his past victimhood, it was on the question: How does G-d want me to use my present situation to better the world?

When the moment was right, Joseph turned himself from a victim into a victor.

There's surviving. Then there's thriving.

Joseph thrived, and we are Joseph. As a Jewish nation, we have embodied the strength Joseph exhibits, building up our homeland from a place of victimhood. And it couldn’t have been built without the help of JNF and all we do.


Protecting the Land

In honor of Chanukah, Jewish National Fund partner Hashomer HaChadash’s participants shared personal stories that bring light to the world. Tamir Abukasis, a Farmland Watch Post Coordinator, spoke about how he continues his sister’s path of bravery and light. Thirteen years ago, at the end of Shabbat, Tamir and his sister Ella z”l were returning from Bnei Akiva when a “red alert” sounded. A kassam rocket fell right near them, and Ella protected Tamir with her body, taking the fatal shrapnel. He explains, “Ella was an inspiring light of giving and grace. In the course of my work at Hashomer HaChadash, I have the opportunity to help farmers everyday – from speaking with them to caring for and safeguarding their lands at night. Knowing that that farmer can get a good night's rest and wake up to the same land, intact and undamaged in the morning, is satisfying and brings value to my life. The choice to provide farmers in the South with assistance and safeguard the lands of Israel on a daily basis – for me, it is a direct continuation of her path, carrying on the spirit of giving and light in the world."

Special in the IDF

Last week, Jewish National Fund Partner Eretz-Ir's Employment Agencies Forum met at the Lauder Employment Center in Be'er Sheva. The meeting focused on connecting the agencies to activities and recruitment needs in the field. We hosted managers from three leading employers in the South: Negev Energy, Osem, and Ikea, whose Be'er Sheva store is set to open in February 2018. The forum provided a unique opportunity for 30 employment agencies to discuss challenges and create solutions for the Negev's diverse populations. 

Special in the IDF

Every year, IDF honors inspiring soldiers in a special event during Chanukah. This year, the event highlighted soldiers from Jewish National Fund partner Special in Uniform. Major-General Moti Almoz, the head of the IDF Manpower Directorate, awarded the special recognition to the soldiers.

Chanukah Highlights

This Chanukah, hundreds of families came to celebrate at the different heritage sites around Israel. From a performance by the Israeli Opera at the Atlit Detention Camp, to lantern tours at Mikveh Israel, to lighting the Chanukah candles at the Minkov Citrus Orchard site, the heritage sites provided visitors with a fun and interactive way to learn about Israel’s pathway to independence.