After eight amazing days exploring the grandeur of Israel, 13 local philanthropists recently returned from Jewish National Fund-USA’s New England Leadership Mission—the first official JNF-USA mission to travel to Israel since its borders reopened to tourists.

The majority of the trip’s participants—many of whom are members of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Southern New England Board of Directors—reside in Western Massachusetts, Greater Boston, Connecticut and New Hampshire. The New England leadership mission spent time exploring some of the “must visit” places like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as other areas outside of the country’s center, including the Negev, Arava and Galilee regions.

New England Leadership Mission at Atlit Detention Center
Risa Winograd, Dar Nadler, Debbie Peskin, David Peskin, Mike Miller, Anne Weiss, Evelyn Miller, Linda Goodman, Dan Goodman, Susan Weiss-Firestone, Erik Barker, Margie Berg, Eric Berg, Harriett Markowitz and Noa Gefen visit the Atlit Detention Center in Israel (Courtesy photo)

One of the main highlights, however, was visiting a beautifully decorated bomb shelter in the Gaza Envelope that was commissioned by the Southern New England Board. The shelter was donated by the community and painted as part of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Bomb Shelter Beautification collaboration with an Israeli street artist who transforms these unique canvases into dazzling masterpieces. More importantly, the fun, dreamlike art makes these shelters less intimidating for children and brings a touch of beauty to structures that constantly remind Israelis of the dangers that lurk around the corner. The shelter was painted with New England themes such as the famous foliage and the Celtics basketball team.

New England Painted Bomb Shelter
Eric Barker, Linda Goodman, Susan Weiss-Firestone, Margie Berg, Eric Berg, Anne Weiss, David Peskin, Debbie Peskin and Dan Goodman pose next to the JNF-USA Southern New England Board-commissioned painted bomb shelter in the Gaza Envelope (Courtesy photo)

The group also visited the newly renovated Western Galilee Tourist Information Center in Akko and were the first visitors to see the center since it sustained heavy damage during riots in May 2021.

“It is incredible to see how our philanthropic impact is truly improving the quality of life for the land and people of Israel,” said mission chairs Margie and Eric Berg. “To see with your own eyes the lifesaving bomb shelter that you helped build, to see the refurbished visitor center in Akko, a project that exemplifies the spirit and willpower of the Jewish people, truly brings home how important our support is.”

Other important Jewish National Fund-USA site visits included: Ammunition Hill, the site of the pivotal battle of the Six-Day War that led to the reunification of Jerusalem; ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, a one-of-a-kind rehabilitative village in Southern Israel; and the Atlit Detention Camp, where thousands of Jewish immigrants were imprisoned during the British Mandate upon arriving in Israel.

“The participants were absolutely mesmerized by Jewish National Fund-USA’s work. It’s one thing to keep hearing and learning about it while in the U.S., and it’s a whole different experience to actually see it, touch it, smell it and feel it,” said Dar Nadler, JNF-USA Israel Emissary to New England and the Capital Region of New York, who led the mission. “In a way, it makes me a better Israeli to be able to experience Israel with JNF-USA’s supporters, and to see Israel through their loving eyes is a privilege I cherish.”

For more information on future opportunities to travel to Israel with Jewish National Fund-USA, visit

Click here to view the photo album from the mission.

Jewish National Fund-USA will be hosting its National Conference in Boston on Nov. 4-6, 2022. To join the conference and learn about the organization’s impactful work in support of the land and people of Israel, visit

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