The Development Corporation for Israel, or Israel Bonds as it is commonly known, continued its successes last year. More than $1.12 billion was invested in Israel through individuals and institutions in the United States purchasing Israel Bonds in 2016.
Since the first bond was issued in 1951, nearly $40 billion has been invested worldwide through this program.
In 2016, the Washington community played an important role in that success. And we will again in 2017 under the leadership of our new executive director, Adam Herman, and through our volunteer lay leaders, including Campaign Chairperson Melanie Moreno, who will be recognized with her husband Rene on Feb. 12 at the annual International Israel Bonds Prime Minister Club Dinner in Miami Beach.
As the volunteer chairman for Israel Bonds’ New Leadership Division in Washington, I stand for Israel by personally investing in Israel through my own purchase of Israel Bonds every year. And I am thankful to be empowered to do a small part to support the Jewish state beyond my personal investment strategy through volunteerism.
I choose to support various charities by donating Israel Bonds to their nonprofits so they receive the interest and principal once the bond matures. All of my tzedakah to Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in 2016 was through the donation of Israel Bonds to organizations whose missions I believe in. And all of my annual giving to my alma mater and graduate school also was in the form of Israel Bonds. I find this to be the most tangible thing that I can personally do to tell these schools that as an alumnus, I do not support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that is active on other college campuses.
Beyond my investments of a few hundred or thousand dollars here-and-there, we begin 2017 with a very tangible foundation and a sign that young Washingtonians stand with Israel. We are one of the fastest growing communities across the United States of young professionals. This strength is highlighted by another young professional in our community, who wishes to remain anonymous, who has generously offered a significant matching program for 2017 to encourage fellow young professionals to join us in investing in Israel. For any investment of $250 or more through Israel Bonds between now and June, this individual will purchase a matching bond.
I am proud to support the Jewish democratic State of Israel through these investments and I am very proud to be able to support Israel Bonds. I am excited for what our young professional community will be doing this year to show in dollar and deed that they continue to stand with Israel.
Our 2017 planning meeting will be held later this month to recap our 2016 events, learn from their successes and strategize for the next 11 months.
During the AIPAC Policy Conference weekend last March, working with a group of volunteers we sponsored HaLev, drawing nearly 600 young professionals. We also hosted a special reception with the then-newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon at the convention center. We look forward to hosting additional programming for the 2017 Policy Conference.
In May 2016, three members of our young professional community took part in the Israel Bonds Leadership delegation to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. We held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and others. Later that month, we partnered with the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces to host a double mitzvah program on U Street, where young professionals donated Israel Bonds to the FIDF. This year, a larger cohort of young professionals will be attending Israel Bonds’ leadership programs and we are in discussion to work on a larger joint program with FIDF in D.C.
During the run up to the MLB playoffs, in August, our Israel Bonds New Leadership group filled two party suites at Nats Park for a fundraising event for young professionals. We hope to return to Nats Park again this year for our sixth annual program.
During the Israeli-American Council conference in September 2016, we sponsored and hosted two programs. The first brought hundreds of Jewish American and Israeli-American young professionals to Capitol Hill for a night out. The second event was an invitation-only networking reception at the Marriot Marquis that included remarks by then-Israel Bonds President and CEO Izzy Tapoohi. We look forward to working even closer with IAC in 2017.
In December, partnering with George Washington University Hillel, Hasbara Fellowships, Alpha Epsilon Pi and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, we held an event with GW students and alumni, as well as young professionals from other schools, to discuss Israel’s image on college campuses in the area and nationally. The panelists also discussed anti-Semitism on campus.
Lastly, in 2016, we kicked off a new dinner program series in which an established professional in our Jewish and pro-Israel community will open his or her home for an informal dinner with up-and-coming new leaders who want to learn more about not just the “what” of Israel Bonds, but also the “why” — as in why that family chooses to invest in Israel and why they choose to volunteer their time with the organization. Our next dinner is confirmed with a successful real estate professional from our community and invitations will be sent shortly to young professionals. We also look forward to returning to hosting the Israel Bonds Ambassador’s Ball and highlighting our generation’s commitment to Israel at the program.
Jason Langsner, 35, is an active lay leader in the Washington Jewish community. He is the chairman of Israel Bonds New Leadership Division in Washington and a member of Israel Bonds National New Leadership Council.