Jewish National Fund-USA philanthropists celebrate Israel at 75 in the Jewish homeland

Participants of the weeklong celebration created lifelong memories as they visited the organization’s bold and visionary initiatives.

Alan Abramson, David Chudnow, Lou Rosenberg, Marcia Selz, Eduardo Silberman at Timna National Park
Alan Abramson, David Chudnow, Lou Rosenberg, Marcia Selz, Eduardo Silberman at Timna National Park

In honor of Israel’s 75th year of independence, 300 philanthropists participated in one of Jewish National Fund-USA’s largest-ever missions to the Jewish Homeland to celebrate the incredible milestone. Participants of the weeklong celebration created lifelong memories as they visited the organization’s bold and visionary initiatives.

One of the highlights of this trip was a concert and party for Yom Ha’atzmaut, which took place in Be’er Sheva. After an opening welcome speech by Be’er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, the mission attendees joined the enthusiastic crowd of over 700 in celebrating Israel’s Independence Day with incredible musical performances. None were as moving, however, as the performance by Jewish National Fund-USA’s Special in Uniform Band — a group of soldiers with disabilities who delivered a powerhouse performance that moved the entire crowd.

David Chudnow, Sharon Joy, Shelly & Alan Karpman, Morris Flaum, Cidney Dutton, Alyse Golden Berkley, Jill Rosenberg at the Be’er Sheva Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration

There’s an added layer to the concert that took place in Be’er Sheva. The city is a central part of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Blueprint Negev Strategy, which aims to bring 500,000 new residents to the Negev by improving the quality of life in the region. In addition to the concert, the mission attendees saw firsthand how the organization is turning Be’er Sheva into an oasis in the desert, complete with a tour of the Be’er Sheva River Park. Once a dry riverbed used as a landfill, this 23-acre plot of land has been revitalized as a significant tourist attraction, with the largest manmade lake in the Middle East, picturesque biking trails, and a 12,000-seat amphitheater.

“Our experience in Israel was beyond expectations,” said Linda and Mike Gold. “The beautiful country is amazing, and the progress being made in the field of agriculture of water conservation is incredible. Seeing what we as Jewish National Fund-USA donors can do to help the people, especially children, is so rewarding.”

Another moving moment was a special Yom Hazikaron memorial service at Ammunition Hill, the site of the historic 1967 battle that enabled the reunification of Jerusalem that’s now a heritage site supported by Jewish National Fund-USA. Hosted by Alon Wald, the Head of Ammunition Hill, the attendees came together with thousands of Israelis to remember and mourn the brave soldiers who sacrificed themselves for the Jewish State. Jewish National Fund-USA CEO Russell F. Robinson addressed the crowd; along with Doron Almog, Founder of ADI Negev Nahalat Eran, a world-class rehabilitative facility also supported by the organization; and the father of Michael Levine, a lone soldier who was killed in combat.

Robyn Schneider, Jackie Rabin, Harold Kaplan, Layne Zagorin, Linda Gold, Mike Gold, Ellen Spira Hattenbach, Rick Krosnick, Robin Kafenshtok, Chuck Kafenshtok, Sandy Goldstein, Bruce Goldstein at Sde Boker

“Our mission was the best way to see Israel and get an all-encompassing education on what JNF-USA does for Israel and its people in one,” said Sandy and Bruce Goldstein. “In addition, it was a fabulous combination of people, food, and fun!”

Other highlights include:

A visit to Yad Vashem, the largest Holocaust memorial and education center in the world

A tour of the Ayalon Institute, a clandestine bullet factory established by the Haganah in 1945 that is now a museum supported by Jewish National Fund-USA

A special dinner at Alexander Muss High School in Israel, the organization’s college-prep, study abroad experience in Israel

Visit jnf.org/travel to view all opportunities to travel to Israel with Jewish National Fund-USA or register for the first-ever Global Conference for Israel taking place November 30-December 3, 2023, in Denver to learn more about the organization’s work in Israel. Learn more at jnf.org/global.  

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Jewish National Fund-USA builds a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education. As a leading philanthropic movement, the organization supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south as it develops new communities in the Negev and Galilee, connects the next generation to Israel, and creates infrastructure and programs that support ecology, people with disabilities, and heritage site preservation, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel.
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