Capital Region JNF Board and speakers at the local recent breakfast, from left: Karen Hausler, Tania Pons Allon, featured speaker; Lauren Iselin, breakfast co-chairwoman; Rob Ganz, board president; Mara Ginsberg, Lev Ginsburg, Jenn Lean, Dana Sless, Annette Vaccaro, speakers; Alan Lobel, breakfast co-chairman; and Susan Farber.

ALBANY–One hundred and fifty people gathered early on the morning of May 20 at the Albany Marriott for the Jewish National Fund’s Breakfast for Israel. The event co-chairpersons were Lauren Iselin and Alan Lobel.

Life in Israel’s Negev Desert was the main focus, but an overview of JNF efforts in the last year was also presented.

Tania Pons Allon, who works in the research development department of the Central Arava Regional Council, a part of Jewish National Fund’s Blueprint Negev campaign, was the main speaker and spoke about what it’s like to live and thrive in the Arava. She was then joined on stage for a question and answer session by Annette Vacarro and Dana Sless, two local medical professionals who have volunteered giving lectures and seminars at the Jewish National Fund’s Danielle A. and Irving J. Grossman Arava Medical Center.

Sara Hefez, the JNF executive director took to the stage to give an overview of the work JNF has accomplished since the last Breakfast for Israel. When Israel’s Gaza border communities were terrorized by incendiary kites and balloons, JNF stepped in and provided new firefighting equipment and days of fun for the youth of the region. JNF also sponsored a two-week, 11 city tour with three Israelis who live in the Gaza Envelope to travel and tell their story of life under fire.

Hefez then discussed of JNF in Israel’s south. She told attendees, “We are building up the Negev and Galilee and our housing fund has supported 1,000 lots in 19 communities. The first rehabilitation hospital will be constructed outside of the center of the country, right in the center of the Negev. The exciting projects JNF is doing in the north of Israel are revolutionary. We are transforming the Eastern Galilee, home of the seven species of the Bible, into the culinary capital of the Middle East.  We are opening a food accelerator which will create 10,000 jobs in Kiryat Shmona!”

Information about JNF and how one may get involved with the organization is available from JNF Campaign Executive Rina Wagman or by calling 617-423-0999, ext. 812.