More than 500 philanthropists united in solidarity with the people of Israel at Jewish National Fund-USA’s Breakfast for Israel in Newton on Monday, April 8, 2024, offering Boston-area residents the opportunity to support the Jewish homeland and learn how they can make a difference in the lives of Israelis impacted by the Oct. 7 atrocities.

Chaired by local philanthropists Ellen and Richard Calmas, Alex Iselin, Ellen and Adam Rizika, and Harris Wallack, the event featured Jewish National Fund-USA’s CEO, Russell F. Robinson, and focused on the organization’s “Livnot B’Yachad – Build Together” plan to rebuild communities together with global volunteers and bring displaced families back home.

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Chairperson Risa Aronson, CEO and featured speaker Russell F. Robinson, Boston president Rhonda Forman, and executive director Sara Hefez (Courtesy photo)

“We’re going to build their homes, we’re going to build their yards, we’re going to build new parks, we’re going to clean up communities,” said Robinson. “This is truly a battle of lightness over dark. They are not going to extinguish our hope.”

Robinson continued: “You get to be part of sending the greatest terror to our enemies: the sound of children that are going to be playing in those parks in those communities, the sound of a new house being built, the sound of a new community center being constructed, the sound of a new swimming pool, the sound of a new soccer field, the sound of people moving back home and people moving there. That is the greatest fear our enemies have, because that’s the sound of life.”

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Sharon Rosen-Katz, Daryl Cohen, and Bari Popkin (Courtesy photo)

Local leaders also discussed Jewish National Fund-USA’s Israel Resilience Campaign, which has raised over $60 million since Oct. 7 and has supported the evacuation and relocation of tens of thousands of residents in Israel’s south while providing thousands more with housing, food, clothing, and other supplies.

“In the aftermath of Oct. 7, our resolve to support the land and people of Israel and strengthen the Jewish future is stronger than ever,” said Rhonda Libman Forman, president of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Boston Board of Directors and the local chair of Women for Israel. “We have been on the front lines, providing emergency assistance to communities in need. From the Israel envelope in the south to the Galilee and the northern border, we are there supporting those affected by violence and terror.”

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Todd Patkin and Russell F. Robinson (Courtesy photo)

Attendees also learned about the thousands of participants who have attended Jewish National Fund-USA’s Volunteer in Israel missions.

“In February, Boston board president Rhonda Forman and I were humbled to lead a volunteer mission with 50 congregants from Temple Emanuel,” said Sara Hefez, Jewish National Fund-USA executive director of New England and the capital region. “Over a span of four meaningful days, we became farmers, we packed boxes, we painted, and despite the pain all around us, we sang, and we danced. We were there not only to tend to Israel’s physical needs, but to her heart. Our volunteer missions are running through December, and while spaces are filling up fast, we invite you, your synagogues, and your friends to take part in planting seeds of hope for our homeland.”

For more information or to learn about future events in Boston, contact Sara Hefez at or 617-423-0999 ext. 811.

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