Tears of Sorrow and Joy: Cincinnati Zionists Join 2,500 at the Global Conference for Israel

Record crowds at Jewish National Fund-USA’s flagship Zionist event experienced a wave of emotions as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the land and people of Israel. 

DENVER, December 14, 2023 – Cincinnati community members recently joined 2,500 Zionists in Denver, Colorado, for Jewish National Fund-USA’s Global Conference for Israel. Emotions ran high as attendees embraced the dozens of Israelis in attendance who experienced the horror and aftermath of the attacks. These same Israelis have been working around the clock with Jewish National Fund-USA to address the immediate needs of those affected while also planning for the region’s future. 

“During this difficult time, it was heartening to spend a few days with 2500 brothers and sisters who gathered to discuss Israel’s resilience and her path forward,” said Ohio Valley Board President Marty Betagole.

Speaking to conference attendees from Jerusalem, the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, praised Jewish National Fund-USA for its response in the wake of the terrorist attacks. 

“[We] come together at this Global Conference for Israel not just in support of the land and people of Israel, but also in support of [our] core values of humanity,” said Herzog. “From the first moments following the October 7 massacre, Jewish National Fund-USA has been there through its Israel Resilience Campaign. It continues to be there for Israel’s displaced border communities, providing temporary housing, food, and other basic needs. And Jewish National Fund-USA has also been leading the charge on another crucial battleground: supporting pro-Israel students and faculty [on college campuses] across the United States.” 

During a plenary session, Jewish National Fund-USA President, Dr. Sol Lizerbram, acknowledged the gathering’s historic symbolism and called on supporters of Israel everywhere to unite behind the organization’s rebuilding efforts in Israel’s south, as he praised the hundreds of students taking part in the event’s High School and College Summits. 

“Tonight, I share all of our history and our achievements not because we’re celebrating,” said Dr. Lizerbram. “Instead, I want to remind everyone that we have built up [Israel’s south] before, and we will do it again. Yes, there are obstacles, and there are security challenges that must be addressed. [However], this is our 1901 and 1948 moment,” referring to the organization’s establishment at the 5th Zionist Congress and the critical role it played when Israel declared independence, respectively.

While a sense of solidarity and somberness defined the lead-up to the event, Jewish National Fund-USA CEO, Russell F. Robinson, urged conference-goers to stand tall and called on everyone to never stop telling Israel and the Jewish People’s story. “It’s so difficult during these times to dream and hope and have a vision about what tomorrow can bring,” said Robinson. “The pain is so great. Thousands of funerals, millions of tears. Pain and loss that will never be repaired. Yet, we will never allow our light to go out!”

Harnessing the momentum generated by the conference’s record attendance, Jewish National Fund-USA announced plans to rebuild Israel’s battered south through a cross-communal strategy called “Build Together.” An initial $50 million fund is planned, with equal contributions from Jewish National Fund-USA and KKL-JNF in Israel, with both organizations calling on Jewish organizations and their supporters everywhere to join together and contribute to the historic revitalization effort.

Next year’s Global Conference for Israel will occur between November 14-17, 2024, in Dallas, Texas. Registration is open at jnf.org/globaldallas.


About Jewish National Fund-USA

Jewish National Fund-USA builds a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education. As a leading philanthropic movement, the organization supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south as it develops new communities in the Negev and Galilee, connects the next generation to Israel, and creates infrastructure and programs that support ecology, people with disabilities, and heritage site preservation, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Learn more at jnf.org