A Wild Shabbat: JNFuture at the Central Park Zoo
The Jewish National Fund Future division held their wildest event of the year, their tenth annual Shabbat in the Zoo! Over 400 young Jewish professionals joined together to celebrate Shabbos right in the Central Park Zoo on Fifth Avenue.
The JNFuture group of New York reaches the next generation of young Jewish leaders around the world through their JNFuture Global Initiative which engages in many exciting programs around the country and in Israel.
While Shabbat in the Zoo is the New York JNFuture division’s largest event of the year, the group also hosts various speakers and holds special events in addition to their own trips to Israel. During the dinner, the young professionals in attendance learned about how they can get more involved in the group’s agricultural and community based initiatives and make a difference themselves.
Rebecca Gottlieb, a founding member of JNFuture, said the group was founded as a way to “create a conduit, an avenue for young adults to learn what the organization is all about.”
Gottlieb explained “JNFuture started in New York when a group of eight or nine of us got together around 2006 and the JNF Board was very supportive of our mission.”
While the group might have originated the fi st JNFuture in New York, JNFuture is now a global aspect of the organization around the world with branches in London and Australia and boasts hundreds of members.
Guests at the swanky summer soiree enjoyed a cocktail hour while mingling around the seal pool in the middle of the zoo before dining in tents surrounded by nature as the sun set, welcoming in the Sabbath. JNFuture is the only Jewish organization which has ever hosted Shabbat dinners in the zoo – if you or someone you know is a young professional, you won’t want to miss the next one! All the money raised at the event goes towards JNF’s Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade Campaign.
The Billion Dollar Roadmap campaign is designed around imaginative entrepreneurs and JNF making a ten-year, $1 billion dollar investment in the future of a promising enterprise – Israel, of course! Since 1901, Jewish National Fund has been known to many as “the tree-planting organization,” and it has earned that title millions of times over. Since its inception, JNF has planted more than a quarter billion trees in a once-barren land—while creating hundreds of communities, including the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv. For JNF—which has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance in the past decade, including a 70% growth of the campaign— JNF believes now is a critical time to step back and chart our roadmap for the future.
JNF CEO Russell Robinson who attended the dinner, said “JNFuture Shabbat in the park is part of a series of Shabbat events that have caught the imagination and passion of our young leadership. desire to connect to Israel is stronger than ever and the desire to celebrate a Jewish life experience like Shabbat shows the future is
more interested, engaged than the nay sayers keep professing. The now generation is ready for leadership, they are challenging us to move forward and Jewish National Fund is proud to be in the leadership position of this change.”
Over the years JNF and JNFuture members around the world have built farming schools, restored historic sites, donated fi e trucks and instituted sustainable farming programs. The goal of JNFuture is to educate the next generation about how they can get involved and make a difference by supporting their projects on the ground in Israel.
The tri-state area is currently contributing to the creation of the Be’er Sheva River Park which is revitalizing the capitol of the Negev with the construction of a 1,700 acre riverfront park, an extensive environmental and economic development project. New York has even adopted the 80-dunam lake as a central project.
If you want to get more involved in either JNF or JNFutures, volunteers are always needed to raise support and awareness for their projects around the country and in Israel. The Greater New York zone has regional office in Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester/Connecticut.
Jonathan and Erica Jesselson
Michelle Ambraov & Michael C Roberts
Sara & Julia Armet
Julie Rosenfield, Warren Buchholtz, & Amanda Saltzman
Roy & Stephanie Kirsch, Harrison Schwartz & Stephanie Schwartz
Stephanie Gandel & Jennifer Mandelbaum