[by Tiffany Lesher]
“The holy land, we fought for it. We are here to stay. Let’s make this the best Israel we can make it.” This was said by Marc Kelman, Jewish National Fund vice president for campaign. This is just one of many inspirational topics he explored at the luncheon on the first day the Louisille Hillel group attended the Jewish National Fund’s National Conference, held September 18 and 19 in Cincinnati.
Kelman told us a story about how he went to Israel and became very close with a family that lost their 16-year-old son in a forest fire. He was a young firefighter, and, like all the other young men he worked with, his equipment wasn’t the best.
“As JNF, we need to all do something to achieve our goals,” Kelman said. JNF’s goals are to rebuild that forest by planting trees. They are also going to get new, safer equipment for the firefighters to use.
We learned that no matter how small something can be in life, you can change so much in no time.
The dinner with TV and radio host Larry King was an amazing experience. We all thought that we was going to be very serious, but as soon as he took his dress coat off and stood at the podium with his white shirt and black suspenders, we all knew this was going to be a speech we would never forget.
King told us stories about how, when he was younger, he came from a poor family. Some of the struggles he had to deal with, although presented with humor, made a lot of us realize no matter who you know or where you come from, you can become someone great. We can all help and change many people’s lives and support and cherish who we are.
Overall, the JNF national conference was a success. We all had a great time as peers and as individuals in a Jewish community. It was a great learning experience that we all will never forget and will cherish for a lifetime.
Courtney Hughes said, “I was struck by what Rabbi Pinchas Landis said in the session, ‘Israel and the Future of American Jewry and Our Connection to Israel.’ He stated that we need to educate our children on Israel’s history and current events so they can go out in the world equipped with the ability to state why Israel has a right to exist.
“I know I have trouble defending her,” she continued, “not because I don’t believe in Israel’s right to exist, but because the subject matter and history are so complex. It’s quite daunting. I left the conference feeling uplifted, strong, and passionate in my faith and in my support of Israel.”
Adit Herscovic said, “Going to the JNF conference was great. First, it always feels good to be around so many people that absolutely love Israel. The speakers were delightful and the dinner with Larry King was an experience I will not forget. Our group was the only student group, and yet I feel that we left quite an impression. Thanks to Tzivia [Levin, Hillel director] and Hillel for making this trip possible for us.”
Barry Mordukhaev added, “The JNF National conference was a great experience and another great eye opener that I got to enjoy. Thanks to Hillel and the JCC. Thank you all so much.”
Louisville Hillel students Keith Callen, Josh Goodman, Bailey Haskell, Adit Herscovic, Courtney Hughes, Tiffany Lesher, Barry Mordukhaev, Gariy Ocheretner and Ben Rubenstein and Hillel Director Tzivia Levin attended the conference, and the trip was made possible by subsidies provided by the Jewish Community of Louisville.