ALBANY – Marina Furman, shared her story of activism and survival with over 110 philanthropic women at Jewish National Fund-USA’s Women for Israel event, “Putin, Israel, and the Jews,” held at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany in May.

Laiky Rubin and Elizabeth Epstein were two of the 110 women who attended the recent local JNF-USA program.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Furman became a refusenik at the age of 19 and spent 10 years fighting the Soviet dictatorship to allow freedom of immigration and religious expression. Now Jewish National Fund-USA’s Executive Director of National Major Donor Advancement, Furman discussed her refusenik story, the current crisis in Ukraine, the power of women’s solidarity, and the ability of an individual’s voice to change lives.

“Imagine the bravery it would take to vocalize dissent against a dictatorship like the former Soviet Union,” said Debbie Ratner, event co-chairwoman. “Marina’s inspiring story demonstrates that every voice can have a lasting impact. She reminds us that each of us has the power to make a difference in our world and that some dreams really do come true.”

Attendees at the program, also heard from local student Molly Wladis, a sophomore at Bethlehem Central High School who had recently returned from a mini-semester program at Alexander Muss High School in Israel, JNF-USA’s college-prep, study in Israel experience. Wladis reflected on how Muss had connected her and the rest of her class to the land and people of Israel through experiential learning and Zionist education. “My time in Israel was not only characterized by emotional visits to the Western wall and meaningful conversations with kindhearted people,” she said. “I saw the technological development in Tel Aviv, floated in the Dead Sea, spent a night in a Bedouin tent, and climbed through the Bar Kochba caves.”

JNF-USA Executive Director of National Major Donor Advancement Marina Furman and keynote speaker for the May JNF-USA Capital Region event; Mara Ginsberg, JNF-USA Capital Region chairwoman; and Lauren Iselin, JNF-USA Capital Region president.

Attendees at the event, learned about Jewish National Fund-USA’s first Global Conference for Israel (, set for  Denver, Colo., from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. JNF-USA Associate Director, New England and the Capital Region, Emily Pfeffer at [email protected] or 617-423-0999, ext. 812 can provide details.