Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:




I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Jewish National Fund campaign as the new Vice President of Campaign. I am especially thrilled to have the opportunity to work with our outstanding team of lay leaders and professional fundraisers toward our $1 Billion campaign goal.


I want to take this time to thank my good friend, Bruce Gould, with whom I have had the pleasure to work alongside as his Major Gifts chair these last two years. During Bruce’s tenure, we raised more than $170 million for the annual campaign to support the land and people of Israel, reaching $620 million toward our $1 Billion 10-year goal. Bruce, thank you for your leadership, and also, your friendship.




What an incredible weekend we had in Washington D.C.! More than 1,200 pro-Israel supporters came together at the Grand Hyatt Hotel to learn, share laughs, and leave inspired about the work of Jewish National Fund. So many people were instrumental in putting together the Conference, but it is important to single out the two conference chairs, Jayne Klein and Gary Kushner, who projected grace and leadership throughout and set the tone for the entire conference.


On the staff side, Yael Septee Kane, JNF’s Chief of Israel Advocacy and Leadership Development, and Amy Fass, Director of National Events, managed this grand conference with such professionalism that conference attendees only saw the magic of the performance when the curtain went up and not all the moving parts behind the scenes inherent with such a massive undertaking.


And, after a long weekend, 150 lay leaders and professionals remained on Monday for our annual Campaign Planning Summit.  We had a great day of learning and heard many ideas to enhance our local fundraising efforts.  As I said in my big campaign speech at the Sunday plenary session and those at the Summit heard multiple times, our national goal is to increase the number of donors giving $1,000 or more from 6,000 donors to 10,000.  That is the recipe for a sustainable $100 million annual campaign.  Many have asked for the power point slides we showed at the Campaign Summit, click here to download a .pdf version.




Over the last several weeks many lay leaders and members of the JNF professional staff have worked hard on the 2020 Campaign Plan.  This plan is “a living document” which provides a framework to conduct our annual campaign.  It is also a great resource manual filled with a campaign calendar, best practices, and leadership directories.  Please be sure all local board members review this document and even more, focus your October board meeting on how you will roll out many of the objectives and programs outlined in the plan. Click here to download the 2020 JNF Campaign Plan.




It is unbelievable that more than 300 people have already registered for the 2020 National Conference taking place in Israel October 25–29, 2020. NC 2020 will truly be a unique experience combining the plenary and breakout sessions of a National Conference, but with the grandeur of the land of Israel as our conference facility. Register now! 


The sooner you register the more you will save.  To learn more about NC 2020 in Israel, click here: jnf.org/nc2020




There is one more Lay Leader Training Seminar scheduled for this campaign year. On September 25, there will be a session on JNF Marketing and Social Media. To register, click here. As we look toward 2020, we are planning for the next round of training seminars and would appreciate your input. Please e-mail Rick Krosnick at [email protected] and let us know what subjects you want us to focus on for next year — what you want to learn that will improve your understanding of Jewish National Fund and what skills would you like to enhance to make you a more effective leader.



Shabbat Shalom,


    Ben Gutmann

    Vice President, Campaign

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Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and 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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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.


Updates from Israel



Just a couple of weeks ago, around 30 young adults began their National Service, beginning with a comprehensive 2-week orientation period. During the orientation program, which took place at Givat Haviva, national service volunteers learned about guiding visitors through historic sites. Young adults choose to do National Service for many reasons. Some cannot serve in the army for religious reasons, while some choose to do a year of national service before their army service. Each volunteer is assigned to their own site and will be an important part of sharing Israel’s heritage site with visitors.

D’Var Torah

We just came back from the 2019 National Conference in Washington, D.C. JNF brought out more than 1,200 people from across the U.S. and many from Israel. Our JNF family came out in a show of unity in support of the land and people of Israel. Together, we are stronger.


This week’s Torah reading, Ki Tavo, discusses the concept of offering the first fruits of the season or bikkurim. In its explanation, the Torah commands that all must bring an offering of the “first fruits” which the land has yielded, after the Israelites finally entered and settled in the Land of Israel. 


The Talmud, on the other hand, says that the obligation is applicable only once all of the Jewish people are  within the Land of Israel — it took 14 years from the time the Children of Israel entered the Holy Land under the leadership of Joshua, until the land was settled and divided amongst the 12 tribes. The Talmud’s reasoning is that the offering of the first fruits is connected with happiness, which, it maintains, can truly occur only once everyone has reached a state of being settled on the land, not just as an individual farmer.


These two approaches, however, are not in contradiction.


On the one hand, each of us needs to function as an individual to reach our own personal potential. On the other hand, we cannot be oblivious or ignorant to those around us. We also need to reach our potential, as a collective and on a communal level. Without this collective achievement, we cannot reach complete happiness and fulfillment.


Just as a piece of complex machinery cannot function if a small part is missing, the Jewish people, too, are not just a collection of independent entities, but rather a complete structure that requires each of us to be intact to function. This is why we need to care for the entirety of the Jewish people and why true happiness can come only when everyone is settled and fulfilled.


We, in the JNF family, are always aware of the fact that our individual achievements are enhanced with our concern for the wider Jewish community and of Israel. Without concern for others, our own achievements become worthless.


Shabbat Shalom,






Alexander Muss High School in Israel

This week, our Fall Semester group headed off for their four-day Yam el Yam hike, taking them on foot from the Mediterranean Sea to the Kineret. In addition, our Barrack session hiked up Masada.


This week on IsraelCast, host Steven Shalowitz visits Yehelim Boutique Hotel, the only family boutique hotel in the South of Israel, and sits down with the owner, Gali Soffer. Gali explains the intricacies of their famous breakfast including a variety of delicious options for their vegan guests. Listen in to hear what made her family move to Arad and why you should come visit. Listen at jnf.org/israelcast.

Travel & Tours Update

The Canadian & American Active Retirees in Israel (CAARI) Tour is a rewarding volunteer experience in Israel for those over the age of 50. There are options available this January. Check them out here.