A group of philanthropic “wonder women” recently joined Jewish National Fund-USA’s Queen of Sheba Mission to Israel, where they witnessed the impact of the organization’s philanthropic investments in the Negev and Galilee while making memories to last a lifetime.
One particularly memorable moment for the women was a visit to Zuqim, a charming artists’ colony in southern Israel. Founded by members of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Sapphire Society in 1998 through an intensive fundraising effort, the flourishing town nestled in Israel’s Arava region now boasts over 400 families—a powerful success story and a testament to the organization’s efforts to boost population growth in the Negev.
“There is nothing that can compare to visiting Israel and seeing firsthand the amazing work Jewish National Fund-USA is doing for the land and the people of Israel,” said Women for Israel president Barbara Burry. “Bringing a group of women together, some who had never been, others who have visited many times, for the Queen of Sheba Mission was an incredible experience for each one of us.”
Another emotional moment came when Aurora, Colorado resident Eileen Lash visited the painted bomb shelter that she and her late husband sponsored through Jewish National Fund-USA’s Bomb Shelter Beautification initiative. Although her husband passed away before he was able to view it in person, she finally saw the finished product—a beautiful shelter that provides protection from rockets that besiege families in the Gaza Envelope region while also giving children a ray of sunshine during their scariest moments. Lash says she now plans to sponsor the painting of another bomb shelter in honor of her husband.
“I was blown away seeing the projects that Jewish National Fund-USA is supporting in Israel,” added Julia Rymer Brucker, whose mission to Israel with the organization was her first time in the country. “This was an experience that showed me an Israel teeming with life, vitality, and pride for a strong country, and I really felt, for the first time, a sense of being part of a Jewish nation. I hope to take my family to Israel in the near future so that my children can see the connection they have to the land and people early in their lives.”
Additional trip highlights included:
- Exploring Jewish National Fund-USA heritage site Ammunition Hill, the site of the famed 1967 battle that enabled the reunification of Jerusalem;
- A visit to Jewish National Fund-USA’s GrooveTech, a safe and welcoming space in the Gaza Envelope where children can thrive during the day and after school hours through innovative programs and amenities that include rock climbing walls, virtual reality rooms, a planetarium, science and robotics spaces, art workshops and more;
- Sitting in on an Arava International Center for Agriculture Training (AICAT) class, which imparts professional agricultural knowledge and skills to students from developing countries;
- And hearing a moving performance from the Special in Uniform Band on an army base, while seeing how soldiers with disabilities are successfully being integrated into the Israel Defense Forces.
“It was a wonderfully planned out trip,” noted Beverly Kahn. “They took us to places I would otherwise not have known about. The guide was excellent, the hotels were elegant, and the meals we had together were lovely. I’d love to go back!”
Jewish National Fund-USA recognizes May as “Women’s Month” and celebrates the accomplishments of all the women who make a difference for the land and people of Israel—the backbone and the future of this beautiful nation.
Make your voice heard by becoming a Woman for Israel or visit jnf.org/womensmonth to double your impact on the land and people of Israel (up to $1 million through May 31) thanks to the organization’s ambassadors matching all donations towards our Women’s Month campaign.
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 Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Denver to learn more about the organization’s work in Israel. Learn more at: jnf.org/global.