August 30, 2019 – Israeli Judoka superstar and Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) Positively Israel campus envoy, Sagi Maki, has won the 2019 World Judo Championship in Tokyo, Japan.


Maki and his Olympic Judo team toured university campuses across the U.S. this year where they spoke with college students about their efforts to build bridges and positively represent Israel on the world stage – despite the anti-Israel sentiment expressed by some of their competitors.


“Sagi exemplifies what good sportsmanship is all about,” said JNF-USA Chief Executive Officer, Russell F. Robinson. “Despite facing numerous challenges throughout his career, Sagi has continued to offer his hand in friendship to those he competes against, even when some of his competitors don’t reciprocate,” said Robinson.


JNF-USA’s Positively Israel initiative connects over 10,000 US college students annually with Israeli changemakers, influencers, and high achievers who show how Israel, a country one-third the size of New Jersey, is positively affecting communities around the world.


“Positively Israel, one of JNF-USA’s signature campus-based programs, exposes college students and faculty throughout the U.S. to the real Israel – and its worldwide leadership in science, medicine, agronomy, sports and so many other fields, that helps to make the world a better place,” said JNF-USA Vice-President of College Engagement, Charles S. Fax. “Positively Israel is an antidote to the one-dimensional negative caricature that is so often portrayed in the media,” said Fax.


The Positively Israel initiative is complemented by JNF-USA’s Campus Fellowship program that trains, mentors and supports pro-Israel students from across the U.S. to facilitate JNF programs in their campus communities. Fellows play a critical role in recruiting friends to participate in Alternative Winter Break, Caravan for Democracy and JNF College Summit.


“I was surprised to see how humble and sincere Sagi was when he spoke at my campus,” said JNF-USA Campus Fellow and Rutgers University student,” Segev Kanik. “Through his words and actions, we saw how Sagi tries to build bridges with fellow competitors and because of this outreach, he serves as an inspiring advocate for Israel,” said Kanik.


JNF-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south through its Billion Dollar Roadmap initiative, which channels JNF’s values for ground-breaking new ventures and focuses on connecting the next generation to Israel, building communities in Israel’s peripheral regions of the Negev and Galilee, and creating infrastructure for ecology, special needs, and heritage preservation.


JNF-USA’s Positively Israel speaker series will take place again this year on college campuses throughout the U.S. with an exciting line-up of speakers soon to be announced.





Media enquiries: Stefan Oberman, JNF-USA Director of Communications. E: P: 212.879.9305 x222

Positively Israel Speaker Requests: Amy Cytron, Director, Campus Engagement. E: P: 414.963.8733 x776