Thursday, December 21, 2017

JNF Staff Spotlight: Kate Samuels takes Israel to Jews in small towns

Kate, far left, with JNF lay leaders at the National Conference in Florida this November.
"I don't follow college sports." The dinner table fell silent. It became increasingly clear that my vast knowledge on Israel would not help me here. College football was THE religion in this small town, and I had just declared I wasn't a part of it.

That was my first experience in a small-town Jewish community. Growing up in Connecticut, I gave little thought to what it meant to be Jewish or have Jewish friends. And college football was definitely not a religion where I came from. 

After my first trip to a small Jewish community in the south, I became fascinated and intrigued by those who CHOSE to live in a small town and maintain their commitment to Israel and Judaism. Being Jewish in a small Jewish community requires dedication and commitment. Throughout my years of working in small communities, I have met tremendous individuals who are working day in and day out to ensure a strong Jewish future for their children. And it's not easy for them.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Why Connecticut license plates give me a surge of Jewish pride

Blue, white, and tin -- just like JNF pushkes.
By Bob Alper 

I've always found Connecticut license plates to be especially attractive.

I have no particular connection to Connecticut. I grew up in Rhode Island, and for the past 30 years have lived in the loveliest of all states, Vermont.

It's the colors of those Connecticut plates -- the unique blue and white -- that always, happily, remind me of Israel. And there’s another reason behind my fondness for the plates, something I realized only recently.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

In the JNF Kitchen: Chef Alaa Moussa’s sea bass filet on a bed of lemon-verbena freekeh

This recipe originally appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of our Byachad Magazine. You can read the full issue here!

Step into El Marsa restaurant, and you instantly become witness to the latest movement in Arabic cuisine in Israel.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Paul and Nina Freedman, aliyah pioneers and Israel ambassadors

Paul and Nina Freedman, greeting one of many Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah flights. 
It's hard to imagine a time before Nefesh B'Nefesh -- before chartered, celebratory flights brought scores of olim from around the world to live and work in Israel. But Paul Freedman made aliyah in the ‘90s, and remembers it well. Paul, who was the International Director of USY, met his wife Nina, a lifetime Bnei Akiva member, in 1957 in Israel. The pair married in England, and finally returned to Israel on July 4, 1991, this time for good.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sukkot in Israel! A comprehensive celebration guide

Photo: Ephraim Loeb/Jerusalens Photo Contest

If you'll be in Israel this Sukkot, we've put together a list of goings-on throughout the country. There are adventures for the whole family, so take a look and enjoy the holiday with the ones you love. Chag Sameach!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Young JNF leader has a message about Israel for his millennial peers

Josh, bottom center, on a recent trip to Israel with JNF.

By Josh Goodkin, JNFuture New Jersey chairperson

Passion. That fire that burns deep inside of you. That feeling that makes you do things you never thought imaginable. That desire to stand up for your convictions, no matter what. 

My passion can be summed up in one word: Israel. It's amazing what the power of passion can do. I think of visionary Theodore Herzl, who epitomized the word passion and paved the way for the Israel we know today. Following in Herzl's footsteps, I want to share how an assimilated Jewish millennial from a small town in Jersey became a leader and advocate for everything Israel.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Everyday Heroes: John and Dora Boruchin, lifelong Zionists

John Boruchin with his wife and cousin in Israel's Netanya.
When John Boruchin was 12, he attended a speech by Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Inspired, he said then, "If I ever make any money, it will go to Israel." 

Eighty years later, when he passed away at the age of 92, he bequeathed $72 million to Jewish National Fund and made good on his pronouncement as a lifelong Zionist. This estate gift helped JNF achieve a record-setting annual campaign year of $121 million, the largest campaign in our history.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Enthusiastic professors on Faculty Fellowship want an Israel repeat

The faculty fellows atop Masada.

Jewish National Fund, along with Media Watch International, sends a group of professors on the Faculty Fellowship program in Israel for 10 days of touring, learning, and sharing ideas with Israeli counterparts. Applications are being accepted for next year's program now

Enjoy this piece written by Charles S. (Chuck) Fax, the trip's chairperson, upon the recent culmination of the latest trip.

Professors plant trees in Israel.
The 2017 JNF Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel ended with our traditional farewell dinner in Tel Aviv. The 12-day trip went by in a flash, but we were so busy, and saw so much, that in retrospect, we all felt as if we were in Israel for a month. 

I was so exhausted, I could have taken a month to recover. But such sweet exhaustion it was, as this Institute was definitely the most successful ever. Twenty-seven U.S. college and university professors, none of whom had been to Israel before, got to see it from the inside. Our guide, Elchanan Brown, was brilliant; the staffers in charge – Rene Reinhard and Eileen Wedeen -- were professional and unflappable throughout; and the speakers (I lost count of the number), all expert in their fields, were uniformly outstanding, thorough and informative.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

What was your first time like? Reflections of an Israel newbie

By Lori Feldman

If someone would have asked me BEFORE my landing in Israel, "What is one word you would use to describe your first visit to Israel?" I most likely would have said "amazing," "inspirational," or maybe even "unexpected." Now that my trip is complete, the word I would use is "family."  

Everywhere we turned, people treated our group like family. We were welcomed to experience life from a perspective of being home. We were made to feel we have always been family and would continue to be no matter where we call home at the end of the trip.

In the JNF Kitchen: Strawberry spinach salad from Israel's Galilee

The Kalderons
For those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth while still eating healthy, we present the perfect combo in this salad from Kalderon MD founders Danny and Michal Kalderon. They are leading innovators of a uniquely artistic glassware collection whose workshop and factory is located in Israel's Western Galilee.

With over 20 years of experience, Kalderon MD has become well-known for its fresh design concepts and high-quality finishes. Today, hand-made glassware collections by Kalderon MD are acquired by top hotel companies and private customers around the world.  

The couple, who run Kalderon MD side by side (Danny is the artist and Michal runs the business side), shared a family recipe for a great, fresh salad, a it's great hit every time they serve it! They suggest you make it for Rosh Hashana, as it includes apples and honey.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Negev 'pitch night’ for new start-ups also solves local problems

The entrepreneurs on pitch night. 
By Megan E. Turner

On a balmy summer's eve in Be'er Sheva, the excitement in the air was palpable at Jewish National Fund's Lauder Employment Center as 19 entrepreneurs shared their concepts for social change with a crowd of more than 250. Each took the stage in what was billed as a local "pitch night." With only 30 seconds to sell their idea, these budding business leaders summarized the past six months of hard work on their unique ideas into just a few, fleeting moments. Even more exciting, the best pitches of the evening were awarded seed money to help get their business off the ground.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

'I won the lottery' on Faculty Fellowship 2017, professor says

Professor Markel planting a tree during Faculty Fellowship 2017. 
Jewish National Fund, along with Media Watch International, sends a group of professors on the Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel for 10 days of touring, learning, and sharing ideas with Israeli counterparts. Look out for reflections from this year's recently returned trip. Applications are being accepted for next year's program now

By Professor Karen Markel, Human Resource Management, Oakland University

I can’t believe it took me nearly 50 years, but I finally made it to Israel thanks to the 2017 Faculty Fellowship Program. Israel had always been part of the conversation throughout my early Jewish education, and I grew up planting trees in Israel to honor someone’s memory or a special event. And here I was, finally getting a chance to visit the Jewish state and not only learn about its religious history but to make connections to my profession as professor of human resource management. I have been studying how business organizations can become more inclusive to people with disabilities in the United States. I was now going to learn specifically how Israel has been making employment more accessible for all its people.

Everyday Heroes: The soldiers of Israel's War of Independence

Machal Memorial. Photo credit: Jewish Action
In concert with our most recent issue of B'Yachad celebrating Israel's heroes, we are bringing you stories that showcase inspirational men and women. If you want to become a hero too, support a hero

Tucked away halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Sha'ar Hagai, near the old Burma Road, stands a memorial that is a testament to the immense bravery and selflessness that went into the creation of the modern State of Israel.

It's title, Machal, is named for the volunteers during the 1948 War of Independence. A Hebrew acronym for "volunteers from abroad," this group was comprised of 5,000 adults; 1,250 of which were Americans and Canadians; men and women, Jews and Non-Jews alike. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

JNF Staff Spotlight: Lou Rosenberg, making it a family affair

In 1983-84, I decided to take a year off from college, what is commonly know these days as a gap year.  After some long discussions with my grandmother, I was encouraged to go to Israel and live on a Kibbutz. When I arrived in Israel on a bright and sunny October day, I looked around and proceeded to ask myself, 'what have I just stepped into?'

Friday, July 21, 2017

In the JNF Kitchen: Grilled stone fruit with zuta sorbet

This recipe of the week comes to us from La Boite, a biscuits and spice shop in New York City owned by Israeli chef and spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz. Lior and La Boite have gained international fame for mixing spices in a unique way and selling some of the world's rarest blends. He opened his culinary superstore after traveling and studying around the globe, and dreams of establishing a cooking school in Israel's north along with JNF. Lior was one of our first guests on the JNF podcast, IsraelCast - you can hear more about his journey on that episode!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Meet a JNF Leader: Joe Hess, who's experienced true miracles

Joe Hess on a recent trip to Israel with JNF.

Today we bring you the story of Joe Hess, a JNF leader from Garden Grove, Calif., whose fascinating personal history is a stunning example of Jewish tenacity and will in post-Holocaust America. 

Hess was born in Fulda, Germany, in 1939. He was on one of the last Kindertransport trains out of Europe, and his slight English accent is due to time spent in England, the only country to accept child transports. In fact, his first English word was "inkwell." 

Israel trip leaves millennial hopeful as ever about her generation

The author planting a tree in Israel with JNF. 
By Lauren France

Millennials get a bad rap. People write off my generation as lazy, entitled, and obsessed with social media. Sure, that last one might be true, but what I've learned in my four years as national chair of JNFuture, working alongside hundreds of my fellow "babies of the '80s," is that we are so much more than the stereotype. 

As chair of JNFuture, I had the privilege of serving as co-chair of the young professional track on the JNF 50th Anniversary of Jerusalem's Reunification Mission. After leading 31 other participants on a week-long tour of Israel, I am more encouraged than ever at the power of the millennial generation and the power of the Internet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Everyday Heroes: What it feels like making nature accessible to all

Adi Cohen with a group of children at LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible. 

In concert with our most recent issue of B'Yachad celebrating Israel's heroes, we are bringing you stories that showcase inspirational men and women. If you want to become a hero too, support a hero

By Adi Cohen

Nearly two years have passed since I completed my national service as a guide with LOTEM in Jerusalem, but every time I return to guide a group, that amazing feeling of being part of something big comes back to me. LOTEM’s nature outings impact so many people with special needs, essentially giving them the ability to experience a sense of normalcy -- what they deserve as human beings who live in this beautiful world that surrounds us.

Friday, July 7, 2017

In the JNF Kitchen: Watermelon gazpacho with fresh fish tartar

This summery recipe comes from Avichai and Idan of Yanivichi Bistronestled in the eucalyptus trees on Moshav Bustan HaGalil, just a few minutes drive from AkkoSet inside a renovated structure from 1948, previously the Moshav’s first dairy compound, and named after the Moshav’s first milkman, the restaurant is the place to go to for fusion cooking that combines the vibe of Tel Aviv with Galilean flavors and local plates alongside dishes imported from Italy and France.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

In the JNF Kitchen: Shakshukeet from a famed Jerusalem restaurant

Photo: Machaneyuda
For the next few weeks, our #RecipeOfTheWeek series will feature some fantastic Israeli chefs. These culinary masters are on the itinerary of the amazing JNF Culinary, Wine and Music Tour this June. Learn more about the cultural experience here

This recipe comes to us from Chef Assaf Granit of Jerusalem's Machneyuda restaurant. He was born and raised in Jerusalem, and the city has always been an integral part of his life, but food, not so much. 

Growing up, "my house didn’t have any culinary inheritance," he says. "My mom was the worst cook ever," (though quickly adds he promised his mom he would try not to repeat that!) But when his family ate in restaurants, Granit fell in love with what he saw. After the army he started helping out as an unpaid kitchen assistant in a coffee shop to learn from chefs he admired.

In the JNF Kitchen: Fish wrapped in dough

Fish in dough, or salt crust.
For the next few weeks, our #RecipeOfTheWeek series will host some fantastic Israeli chefs. These culinary masters are slated for the itinerary of the amazing JNF Culinary, Wine and Music Tour this June. Learn more about this cultural experience here

This recipe comes from Erez Komarovsky, a chef and baker. Afar described him as "the first contemporary baker to introduce artisanal bread to Israel" and he's considered to be one of the leading cooks who defined Israeli cuisine in the late '80s and '90s.

In the JNF Kitchen: Beautiful strawberry-jam challah

This #RecipeOfTheWeek is brought to you by Anna Richlin, a wonderful member of the JNF family. Anna is a campaign executive for the Central New Jersey region, an area you can learn more about here. She's an expert challah baker sharing a sweet version for this week's Shabbat. See below for braiding tips as well! Recipe yields six medium challahs.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

JNF Staff Spotlight: James Kimmey, former student leader at Christian university

James Kimmey JNF
James Kimmey, a 29-year-old San Diego native, has always felt a strong connection to Israel. 

By James Kimmey

Growing up in an evangelical household in Southern California might be an anomaly for me as Jewish National Fund’s newest San Diego director, but I've learned that Israel’s allies can often be found in the most unlikely places.

I've always been passionate about Israel. I can't pinpoint that one instance where I was sold. I just always felt in my heart that it was the right thing to do. And when I think of Israel, the amazing things that its people do, I think of Jewish National Fund and the impact anyone, even me, can have on the lives and land of Israel.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Memorializing Richard Schoenstadt: Fierce Israel advocate

The Schoenstadt clan at last year's event. 
By Kate Schoenstadt

The Richard Schoenstadt Memorial Foundation (RSMF) was established just after the first anniversary of Richard’s death by members of his immediate and extended family. We felt that Richard’s voice, his message, was far too great to disappear on June 13th, 2012, when we lost him to a 20-plus-year battle with leukemia. Every year, we build upon his legacy. Instead of recalling the way in which he was taken from us, we choose to continue the work he deemed the most important while he lived. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gratitude for lone soldier daughter's 'mom away from mom' in Israel

Adina, with her parents and NBN co-founder Tony Gelbart (second from left). 
By Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz

It was on August 17, 2015 that Adina, our youngest daughter, wearing a T-shirt that read Olim L'Tzahal (moving to Israel to join the army), boarded an El Al plane. Our hearts burst with pride as parents who raised her in a deeply Zionist environment. 

The words of Arik Einstein’s song "Uf Gozal Chatoch et Hashamayim" sounded like a bombastic awakening: 

“Fly away my little bird, cut the sky
Fly where ever you want
Just don’t forget there is an eagle in the sky
Be aware, fly away.”

And then it dawned on me.