“IF there’s an organisation that really, really implements the vision of [David] Ben-Gurion of developing the Negev, the Galilee – it’s the JNF.”
Those were sentiments expressed to The AJN by Alon Ben-Gurion, grandson of Israel’s founding prime minister, who was the keynote speaker at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) NSW AGM in Sydney late last month.
To a packed room at NCJWA Fanny Reading Council House, he recounted stories and anecdotes that provided a glimpse into his famous grandfather.
The elder Ben-Gurion believed Israel “is a home for all the Jews of the world”.
During the Second World War, he offered the services of Jewish fighters to the Allies to repel the Germans from invading Palestine. He knew that Jews could only win a state if they never gave up their struggle.
Ben-Gurion “took a gamble” in declaring independence in May 1948, he said.
Speaking to The AJN, the younger Ben-Gurion praised JNF.
“I love this organisation, I love the people, I love the donors. I met many of the donors in Melbourne and Sydney, the people are wonderful, their love for Israel is amazing,” he said. “It really warms my heart to see it.”
The AGM also saw NSW president Pam Krail complete her term. Her replacement, David Moses, first engaged with JNF at the age of six.
“I remember my mum giving me 20 cents to buy a leaf. After 10 weeks I’d bought 10 leaves and had enough to plant a tree and I’d get a certificate,” he recalled.
“I’ve always been quite Zionistic and community-minded, I’ve had many roles in the community so this is just a natural progression.”
He said he would focus on continuing to grow JNF’s engagement with the community, including with the younger generation via JNFuture.
“Ultimately a strong Israel means we’ve got a strong community in Sydney as well. So it’s very much a symbiotic relationship,” he said.
“We’ve got amazing projects that people can relate to … We have specific projects that we [in Australia] choose and we invest directly in those projects.
“There are so many opportunities to get involved.”
Krail said it had been “both a pleasure and an honour” to serve the community and Israel.
“The impact our projects have on the communities they assist are nothing short of incredible,” she said.
Federal president Peter Smaller, who steps down in May, was also thanked for his efforts at the AGM.