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An open letter to the Capital Region Jewish community: Visit Israel!

Editor:
In the age of social distancing, a trip to the local supermarket or park feels like a postcard worthy trip. Yet, despite the current limitations on movement, there will come a time when we will vacation beyond our shores once more. As we think about where we’ll get away, I call on our community to first come home and join me in committing to visit our homeland, Israel at jnf.org/commit.

It’s impossible to measure the long-term effects that the 100% downturn in international tourism and 80,000 tourism related job losses has had on Israel’s economy, however, you can be certain that Israel’s recovery will depend on all of us to show our support just as we have done in crises before to help our homeland bounce back stronger than ever.

For many of us, Israel always has, and always will be on the top of our list of travel destinations. Yet, 59% of American Jewry have never been to Israel. It’s hard to believe that almost two-thirds of our community have never experienced the magic and spirituality of Jerusalem’s Old City, the feeling of rejuvenation from floating in the Dead Sea, or the cosmopolitan buzz of Tel Aviv. Now, more than ever, we must find the positive in these unprecedented times and encourage our friends, families, synagogues, and temples to join us in committing to support Israel’s tour guides, small businesses, hotels, and most importantly — her people.

For those seasoned travelers to Israel who know more about where to find the best falafel in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda than the average Jerusalemite, I ask of you, on behalf of the communities that Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) supports in Israel’s north and south, to spend more time outside of Israel’s big cities and immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of the Negev and Galilee. Why not visit the historic city of Akko and the JNF Western Galilee Visitors Center and let our friend and the Center’s CEO, Michal Shiloah Gal-Nor show you how the Galilee is becoming the “foodie capital” of the world? In the Negev, why not consider taking your family and walking in the footsteps of King Solomon while surrounding yourself in the colorful sands of Timna Park?

Whether or not you travel to Israel with JNF-USA, your temple, synagogue, or community group —it doesn’t matter, as long as you join us in committing to travel to Israel when it’s time to fly again.

P.S. While we’re grounded, why not join the thousands of “travelers” who are visiting Israel every week on a JNF-USA virtual tour? For more information, visit jnf.org/virtualtours.

Mara Ginsburg
Albany

Mara Ginsberg is president of Jewish National Fund-USA in the Capital Region.

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