JNF Standing Tall For Israel

The Jewish State, Israel, meaning is that the Jewish Nation is rebuilding itself from almost scratch. For over 2000 years the Jews have been scattered around the world. After the destruction of the first Jewish Temple in 586 BCE, by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and the expulsion of the Jews to Babylon, not all Jews returned to their homeland when they were given permission to return by King Cyrus the great.

Many remained in Babylon and others wandered to other lands and settled there. After the destruction of the second Temple, in 70CE, when the Roman legions under Titus destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, and at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, many of the Jewish communities were massacred and Jews were banned from living inside Jerusalem.

The rest of the Jews were expelled and Jews no longer lived as a nation in their homeland. What Jews kept in common throughout the 2000 of exile was the longing for Jerusalem and their Abrahamic-Jewish faith and its Bible.

Since Theodore Herzl began propagating his Zionism and Zion idea, individual Jews and organizations began to re-establish status in the land of Israel. One such organization was JNF (Jewish National Fund). Since its founding in 1901, JNF has been focusing on ensuring a strong, secure and prosperous Israel, a potential home for Jews everywhere.

Event's banner-Photo Nurit Greenger
Event’s banner-Photo Nurit Greenger

No wonder that Israel’s Declaration of Independence for the new State of Israel was voted on at JNF-KKL headquarters in Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Rothschild Boulevard, today known as Independence Hall, in Tel Aviv city. (https://www.jnf.org/menu-3/our-history)

When Jews began arriving to Israel at the end of the 19th century, due to Pogroms in Russia among other reasons, the land was barren and malaria infested. Since, JNF says it has planted over 240 million trees in Israel. It has also built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of land and established more than 1,000 parks. JNF also claims to fiscally exceed industry standards.

One can say that Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl, the visionary behind modern Zionism and the reinstitution of a Jewish homeland and David Ben Gurion, the man who declared Israel a sovereign state and the first Prime Minister of the Jewish homeland planted the first two JNF trees, the trees’ project that so much brands JNF.

Through its various programs, JNF brings west, east, south and north together in that small sliver of land, called Israel, and step by step is helping catching up to the glory of ancient Israel.

The future of the State of Israel much depends on each and every Jew. By making a difference in cultivating the land and enriching the lives of all the people of Israel, JNF gives generation after generation a unique voice in building and ensuring the prosperity of the land of Israel.

Jewish women, supporters of JNF work, have been standing strong in rebuilding the Jewish nation in its ancestral land, Israel.

On May 23, 2018, the Jewish National Fund’s Women for Israel (WFI) held a luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, to celebrate Israel @70, with Amanda Bialack, Deena Singer, Myrtle Sitowitz, and Terre Mirman Steinbeck acting Co-Chairs, and with the singing performance of Ninet Tayeb, among Israel’s most popular entertainment stars.

Top row (L-R): Moderator Honey Kessler Amado, event co-chair Deena Singer, JNF National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman, panelist Elham Rad, panelist Titi Ayanaw, event co-chair Terre Mirman Steinbeck, JNF Greater Los Angeles Board President Alyse Golden Berkley, JNF Major Gifts Director Jodi Marcus; bottom row (L-R): Panelist Gabriella Karin and event co-chair Myrtle Sitowitz-Photo credit Adam Parth
Top row (L-R): Moderator Honey Kessler Amado, event co-chair Deena Singer, JNF National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman, panelist Elham Rad, panelist Titi Ayanaw, event co-chair Terre Mirman Steinbeck, JNF Greater Los Angeles Board President Alyse Golden Berkley, JNF Major Gifts Director Jodi Marcus; bottom row (L-R): Panelist Gabriella Karin and event co-chair Myrtle Sitowitz-Photo credit Adam Parth

WFI is a group of dynamic and committed American women philanthropists who work tirelessly to help improve the lives of Israelis with disabilities, to transform the land, still desolate, into lush oases, and help establishing critically needed community services and infrastructure in Israel’s periphery communities.

The state of WFI is a group of dynamic and committed American women philanthropists
The state of WFI is a group of dynamic and committed American women philanthropists-photo Nurit Greenger

This event featured three women who told their story of a Zionist dream and how Israel played an integral role in saving their lives and shaping them. All three stories depicted how the Nation of Israel is rebuilding itself, one Jewish person at the time.

The three women

Gabriella Karin, a Holocaust Survivor, originally from Slovakia, arrived to Israel in 1949, and became an educator and a sculptor;

Elham Rad, originally from Iran, etched in her memory is her family’s daring escape from Iran after the Islamic revolution. She arrived to Israel in 1982 and today she is a Judaic Studies Teacher at Lainer School in Sinai Temple, Los Angeles;

From L-to-R-Flor Mastour Elham Rad mother, Shahla Javdan, Elham Rad and son Oren-Photo Nurit Greenger
From L-to-R-Flor Mastour Elham Rad mother, Shahla Javdan, Elham Rad and son Oren-Photo Nurit Greenger

Yitayish “Titi” Ayanaw, originally from Ethiopia, envisioned Israel as an ancient kingdom with a king and princesses. Instead of her dreamy image of Israel, what she found upon her arriving to Israel in 2004, was a fast moving and modern country. In 2013 Titi won the title of Miss Israel and today she is a model and TV personality.

anel-L-to-R-Moderator Honey Kessler Amado, Gabriella Karin, Elham Rad, Titi Ayanaw-photo credit Adam Parth
anel-L-to-R-Moderator Honey Kessler Amado, Gabriella Karin, Elham Rad, Titi Ayanaw-photo credit Adam Parth

The story of Gabriella, Elham and Titi, is the story of the resurgence of the Jewish Nation and its ancient homeland, Judea and Israel. A story of survivors who arrived to a land that did not match their imagination and the Biblical stories they were so familiar with. Each saw Israel through a different lens but ended up melting into being Israelis. A story of mountains movers and shakers, of doers. In the past 70 years Jews from all corners of the world arrived to Israel and have made the land their home; they acclimated, learned the Hebrew language and procreated. Approximately 7 million Jews make the state of Israel’s social fabric and they are the most prominent human seed of the Jewish Nation’s future.

When the heart is full of faith, it can withstand difficult challenges and create great work. That is what took place 70 years ago when Israel began to absorb displaced Holocaust survivors from Europe and Jewish refugees from Arab and North African Muslim countries.

Every generation must pass to the next generation the importance of supporting Israel in order for Israel to remain strong and her image shining. It takes education, it takes dedication, and it takes continuous work. In that aspect we can say, JFN definitely leads the pack.

In the words of Israel Prize Laureate Miriam Peretz: “A homeland is not built only with pain and tears but also with hard work and benevolence. In the State of Israel’s social fabric puzzle, in this entire rainbow’s colors’ picture, there is a place for every Jew. If there is one piece missing the picture is incomplete. And if putting this puzzle together will take longer, the Jewish Nation must not despair. To succeed in the making of this social mosaic, the Jewish nation must respect its every member.”

And this quote sums up the JNF.

During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the “Accidental Reporter” felt compelled to become an activist. Being an ‘out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a “one-woman Hasbarah army” for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
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