Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:

Chanukah is a time of reflection and gratitude.  It is an opportunity for me to say thank you to the hundreds of Jewish National Fund volunteers and professional staff members for making this such a great organization.

  • Thank you for the more than $470 million you helped JNF raise in a little more than four years toward our $1 Billion Roadmap.
  • Thank you for your personal commitments of dollars and time which make a big impact on our fundraising campaign, but even more, on Israel.
  • And thank you for helping our fundraising team close as many gifts as possible at the end of this calendar year so we ensure everyone has the opportunity to be counted among JNF donors.

Lastly, thank you for your efforts and donations on Giving Tuesday a few weeks ago. I am pleased to share with you these statistics:

  • $1.8 million raised
  • 1,300 donors
  • 177 gifts of $1,000 or more
  • 60 gifts of $5,000 or more
  • 142 new donors who gave a total of $65,000

We owe a big THANK YOU to Bob Lembke of Denver and the Gene and Marlene Epstein Humanitarian Fund from Bucks County, NJ, who combined made a $750,000 matching grant for Giving Tuesday. This grant was a significant communication tool to encourage people to double their impact by making their gift on that day.

THANK YOU, again, and Happy Chanukah!

Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign


D’Var Torah

By Yossi Kahana

In this week's reading, Mikeitz, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, has two dreams. In the first, he sees himself standing over the Nile River, where seven fat cows emerge from the river followed by seven thin cows. The thin cows proceed to swallow the fat ones, yet they remain just as thin as before. In his second dream, Pharaoh sees seven thin, shriveled ears of grain swallow seven fat ears of grain.

None of the wise men of Egypt could offer Pharaoh a satisfactory interpretation of his dreams. Finally, Joseph is summoned from his dungeon, he interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty, symbolized by the fat cows and fat grain, will be followed by seven years of hunger, reflected by the lean cows and the shriveled ears. The seven years of famine will be so powerful that they will "swallow up" and obliterate any trace of the years of plenty.

Joseph then advises Pharaoh to prepare for the looming crisis by stockpiling food during the years of plenty and then rationing it out during the famine. Pharaoh is blown away by Joseph's vision. "Can there be another person who has G-d's spirit in him as this man does?" he asks his advisors. He appoints Joseph viceroy of Egypt, and the rest is history.

Joseph’s true brilliance demonstrates how it remains as relevant as ever to each of us struggling to survive our own private ‘years of famine.’ In our own lives we all experience cycles of plenty and cycles of famine. There are times when things are going very well, we are healthy, successful and comfortable, and there are times of recession and challenges, when curve balls come our way. Joseph taught us how that we must prepare in our years of plenty for our years of famine.

Interestingly, the haftorah reading for Mikeitz is from the book of Zechariah. Zechariah (who lived in the 6th century BCE) prophesied the return of the Israelites to their Homeland after they had been exiled by the Babylonians. Among his many visions, Zechariah saw a menorah (flanked on both sides by olive branches) and he heard an angel explaining to him that this vision meant the Temple in Jerusalem (which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 422 BCE) should now be rebuilt “not by might, not by power, but by the spirit of G d."

Zechariah's vision is one of most powerful images of prophecy. It continues to have profound significance for us today. More than ever, we see darkness fill our world. But fighting darkness is a tough battle which leaves darkness within. Despair. Don't fight darkness, just add light. A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness. Something we so clearly see during these days of Chanukah.

Birthright Israel

NEW!  Birthright changed their eligibility status!  Now young adults of Jewish heritage, aged 18-32 can participate! Make sure the people you know sign up for priority registration status for this summer or next winter. Shorashim-Israel with Israelis allows applicants to customize their Birthright Israel adventures with countless dates and program options. Spread the word – ensure that eligible people in your life sign up for priority status

JNF TV Update

The next episode of JNF Entrepreneurs with Jessica Abo is live! Here, we encounter Sam Goldberg, an entrepreneur with three successful companies under his belt and a fourth on the way. And he still finds time to give back.  Click here to watch.


Chanukah at the Heritage Sites

Chanukah has arrived! This year, the heritage sites are celebrating with a special event, “Chanukah 5778: Discovering a Newness in the Old- Israel Heritage Week 2017”. Sites around the country, including HaReut museum, Atlit Detention Camp, Independence Hall, Ammunition Hill, and many more, are offering special holiday activities for the whole family. Visitors are invited to come learn and celebrate at the sites with movies, exhibits, workshops, shows and much more. Holidays and events are a great way to bring more visitors to the heritage sites and teach them about Israel’s brave pathway to independence.

Employment in the Negev

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

Only hours before the beginning of Chanukah, the IDF hosted a special swearing-in ceremony at Yad La’Shiryon, the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun. At the event, 12 soldiers with disabilities were sworn into the IDF as part of Special in Uniform. The ceremony was heavily attended by IDF commanders. Emotions ran high and there was hardly a dry eye in the audience as the soldiers, who have been integrated for the past month into Home Front Command alongside peers, took turns ascending to the stage and receiving their pin and volunteer certificate.