By: KKL-JNF; jpost.com
Four JNF-USA delegations came for a one-week tour of Israel, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification.
The delegations included key donors, a young leadership group and Christian lovers of Israel. Every group had a different program and different goals, but they are all united in their love for Israel. All in all, there were 200 people across all four groups, and came together on two special occasions: the national Jerusalem Day ceremony held on Ammunition Hill, and a moving memorial ceremony at the 9/11 Twin Towers Memorial in the Jerusalem Park.
The Young Leadership Track delegation included 35 young Americans, the next generation of community leaders. With the Positively Israel: Interfaith Mission group, the focus was on multiculturalism. The President’s Society Mission included about 70 important donors. The Spirit of Israel delegation included 65 participants, among them JNF USA donors and friends.
The delegations were accompanied by JNF-USA executives, such as CEO Russell Robinson, Outgoing President Jeffrey Levine, Incoming President Dr. Sol Lizerbram, and Vice President of Campaigns and Major Gifts Chairman Bruce Gould.
The Positively Israel mission toured Israel for a week. The group members, both from Jewish and general communities in the USA, visited Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Masada, Acre, Atlit, Ein Hod, Caesarea and many other sites. Along the way, they met Israelis of different religions and were impressed by the unique connection between the cultures and faiths.
The delegation was headed by Nora Gonzalez from Texas and Ann Zinman from Arizona. “Ever since I was a little girl in Mexico, I’ve always felt this deep love for Israel” said Gonzalez. “For me, the opportunity to lead a group of Jews and non-Jews in a visit to the Holy Land really means coming full circle. This is a reminder that it doesn’t matter where we came from, and what we believe in, we all have one God. It is very important for us that the Jewish People knows it has many supporters. We want to show the Christians who the Jewish People truly is. We feel connected here not just to the history and roots of our faith, but to Israel’s contemporary challenges as well. It is a privilege to support Israel and be a part of its vision.”
Members of the young leadership group did not come to Israel as tourists here to visit the main attractions of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada. They traveled all over the country, got to know the communities living in Israel’s geographic periphery, learned about JNF USA’s contribution to the development of Israel and also inaugurated new projects.
The delegation visited Ben Gurion’s hut in Sde Boker, the Ramon Crater, the pioneering Haluza communities, the Aleh Negev Rehabilitation Village and Gush Etzion. On their last day in Israel, before returning to their respective homes, the members of the young leadership group planted trees together at Neot Kedumim.
“Planting a tree in Israel is a very special experience, and to me, the trees signify Israel’s future growth,” said Andy Stein, 29 years old from Chicago. “During this past week we’ve learned so much about JNF and we’re in awe of all the wonderful work it does here.”