Jewish National Fund Celebrates Israel with Alon Ben-Gurion

Jewish National Fund Celebrates Israel with Alon Ben-Gurion

Alon Ben-Gurion: The Grandson of David Ben-Gurion to Speak about his Grandfather and Jewish National Fund’s Work in Israel’s Negev Desert. Photo Courtesy: Alon Ben-Gurion

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, more than 300 supporters of Jewish National Fund will fill the Congregation Agudas Achim social hall for the 7th Annual Jewish National Fund Breakfast for Israel in Austin. Attendees will enjoy the rare opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Alon Ben-Gurion, grandson of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The complementary event includes a continental breakfast and program from 8 to 9 a.m., with registration opening at 7:30 a.m.  

This year’s Jewish National Fund Breakfast for Israel will focus on the pursuit of David Ben-Gurion’s dream to populate the southern half of Israel and how Jewish National Fund’s Blueprint Negev aims to see that dream to fruition in the program From Sand to City: Ben-Gurion’s Dream.

“Jewish National Fund’s work in the Negev is closely aligned with David Ben-Gurion’s vision to make the desert bloom, so we are thrilled to welcome Alon to Austin to celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday and support Blueprint Negev with our community,” said Randy Maltz, Jewish National Fund’s senior campaign executive for the Southwest.

Ben-Gurion said he will “share unheard stories about [his] grandfather, Israel’s first prime minister and founding father. These are personal stories about the family that no one has heard.”

A third-generation Israeli, Alon Ben-Gurion was an officer and paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces when wounded in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Currently, he is general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and a highly sought international hospitality consultant.

Alon’s grandfather, David Ben-Gurion (z”l), emigrated from Russia to Ottoman Palestine in 1906 and, after becoming a leader in the Labor Zionist movement in 1935, became chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency, which essentially served as the pre-state government.

Later in his life, he moved to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev with his wife, Paula.

The 7th Annual JNF Breakfast for Israel in Austin is chaired by longtime community leaders Jennifer and Brad Greenblum.

“Growing up in Laredo,” explained Brad, “I remember always putting spare change in our little Jewish National Fund Blue Box on the kitchen counter and listening to my parents talk about the importance of planting trees in Israel. And on a recent family trip, we again witnessed Jewish National Fund’s impact as we toured museums, hospitals, historical sites and entire communities built by the organization.”  

The Greenblums also are passing on the value of Zionist volunteerism to their three children, Aly (29), Coco (26) and Gavin (23). All of the young Greenblums have traveled to Israel multiple times, and Coco recently volunteered on JNF’s Alternative Break mission to southern Israel.

“Coco was so inspired by Jewish National Fund’s work and her direct involvement with Israelis and actual projects left an indelible mark on her,” said Jennifer, adding, “It’s our duty as Jews to take care of our beloved Israel from the ground up, and Brad and I look forward to seeing our community come out to support this essential work at our Breakfast for Israel.”

Event attendees also will hear updates about Jewish National Fund’s One Billion Roadmap for the Next Decade, a bold campaign to increase the population of Israel’s southern desert lands by 500,000 and Galilee region by 300,000.

Maltz explained, “For nearly 100 years Jewish National Fund was about forestation, but our mission has evolved to include the cultivation of communities in remote parts of the country, in addition to the land itself.”

According to Reagan Weil, Jewish National Fund executive director for the Southwest, “Jewish National Fund strives to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s citizens and translate these advancements to the world beyond. Jewish National Fund continues to green the desert with millions of trees, while building new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, developing innovative arid agriculture techniques, ensuring that is inclusive for people with disabilities and special needs and educating both young and old about the importance of Israel and Zionism.”

The breakfast program will also include a special send-off for 10 Austinites, led by Congregation Agudas Achim Senior Rabbi Rabbi Neil Blumofe, who will depart the following week for a five-day bicycle ride through the Negev in support of Jewish National Fund’s partner, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Students from the Austin Jewish Academy will also participate in the program. Table captains will have the opportunity to take a photograph with Alon Ben-Gurion, and sponsors of the event will enjoy an intimate reception with Ben-Gurion the prior evening.

Registration for the breakfast is requested by Oct. 5 via jnf.org/atxbfi or by calling (512) 410-1438.

To reserve a table of 12 or for more information, contact Randy Maltz, senior campaign executive, at rmaltz@jnf.org or (512) 410-1438 ext. 946.

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