BY ARIEL FRECHTMAN
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” These words could not have rang truer throughout every moment of Jewish Federation of North America’s Campaigners’ Mission this past July. Last summer, for the fifth time, I experienced Israel. This time, it was with 57 other leaders from Jewish Federation communities throughout North America – more than half of whom were volunteers. We spent six long (but not long enough) days and nights in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, experiencing firsthand how the campaign work we do at Federation betters the lives of Jewish living in Israel and the diaspora, including our own.
We met Jews who made Aliyah to Israel, some over past years and some within only the past short months, because they had been living in places throughout the world where, unlike what we experience in Jacksonville, it is not safe to live Jewishly. We met formerly at-risk youth who were helped off the streets and into programs that teach them lifelong relationship building, interpersonal and business skills. We met Hasidic men who yearned to obtain skills they need to earn high paying jobs in order to support their families and help bridge the dwindling middle class. We met Olim who moved from all over the world to Israel and have been able to afford and develop skills that have led them to found successful start-up businesses that stimulate the economy and provide jobs for others making Aliyah to Israel. Thanks to the funding Federation allocates to the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Commission, all of these incredible projects (and more) thrive.
In July of 2017, our Federation will once again travel to Israel to experience the Holy Land through the JFNA Campaigners’ Mission 2017. This time, we’ll do it with more of you. Thanks to a number of generous donors in our Jacksonville community who have chosen to invest in the fundraising skillset of our new generation of campaigners, we are able to offer free land cost to a select array of participants. You will not only get to experience Israel with professionals and volunteers from our own Jacksonville community and all over North America, but you will get to understand firsthand the importance of continuing to secure Israel’s prosperity for all of us.
As I was told on my first night of last year’s Campaigners’ Mission, “the campaign work we do isn’t dirty work. It’s holy work.” I can’t wait to share all of this with you. Please contact me if you are interested in joining us on this incredible adventure!