A Wild Shab­bat: JNFu­ture at the Cen­tral Park Zoo

The Jewish Voice - - SPECIAL FEATURES - By: Julie Sagoskin

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

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