I am excited to be participating in Plant Your Way to Israel, raising funds to support Jewish National Fund’s critical efforts while at the same time raising funds for my own visit to Israel through the Miami-Dade Impact Fellowship! I have always wanted to learn in Israel and am ecstatic at receiving the opportunity to raise awareness and fundraise for such a great cause. I am honored to not only support a nation that I feel deeply tied to, but also to raise money for my own journey there.
Why do I want to go? Glad you asked. When I was younger my family was not very religious. I knew I was Jewish, but I did not know what it meant to me as an individual. That secular perspective on my identity made me all the more passionate about finding meaning in my ethnoreligion. After a trip to Israel with my family, I found a passion for all the aspects of my Jewish identity, including Torah. Pursuing an opportunity at my temple to study Torah, I was given a unique perspective on how my ethnicity connects to Israel. Over a year of studying Rashi with my Rabbi Jeremy Barras, some of the many mysteries behind my faith were revealed to me. As the year went on, I reflected on how a three thousand year old collection of stories connected to my life as a teen raised in the paperless era. While I will never understand every one of the Torah’s intricacies (no matter how much I wish to), this program did leave me with an important lesson: the strive for Jewish learning is something worth fighting for. My less than religious religious background made me strive for a connection to the title that had bestowed upon me at birth - Jew. When I was younger, that title meant I celebrated Hanukkah rather than Christmas and that I called my priest, Rabbi. I have continuously devoted myself to expanding my knowledge about how that title’s rich history connected to me as an individual. As we studied, I learned that Israel and my ethnicity were so intertwined they were practically indistinguishable. In order to continue my Jewish learning I feel I must live there and learn about the history of the land and its people in HSI's 4000+ years of Jewish history class. As a Torah scholar I know what the country of Israel means to me and have the drive to further that understanding.
The way the program works is simple: Half of all the funds I raise will be put in a special account for my trip, and the other half will go towards JNF’s green initiatives in Israel. I’m raising funds to specifically support JNF’s forestry work – work that has helped Israel enter the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees. But their work is not done and I hope I can count on your support.
Jewish National Fund (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people. JNF embodies both passion and action; its work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. The organization strives to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism. I hope that on my journey I can, in some minuscule way, contribute to this noble cause and thus the world as a whole. I believe that by deepening my Jewish identity I will be better able to represent and advocate for not only the amazing work done by JNF but the state of Israel as a whole.
Please help me reach my fundraising goal for my Plant Your Way to Israel experience – make your tax-deductible donation today!
Any contribution you can make, no matter how small. would be extremely helpful. Thank you for your much valued support!