May 8, 2016  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Environment,

Power of Women spotlight on Gina Raphael: After five years, a full-on 'JNFaholic'

Throughout May, we're celebrating the women who make Jewish National Fund what it is. Next up in our Power of Women series is JNF supporter Gina Raphael, a businesswoman who co-owns Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill in Beverly Hills with her husband Jeffrey Gross. 

Why did you first get connected to JNF? 

I got connected with JNF about five years ago in response to our annual breakfast in Los Angeles. (JNF CEO) Russell's passion for making a difference in Israel and being part of the process inspired me. My first trip back to Israel in 18 years and meeting people like Talia Tzour, Yedidya Harush, Seth Davis, and Yoel Zilberman has gifted me with a second family -- a JNF family from Israel. 

Did you grow up with involvement in Jewish life/organizations? 

I studied art history in college. I had asked my parents to spend a semester abroad looking at art and they made it clear I needed to visit Israel first. I think they regretted that move. I fell in love with Israel, spending two summers at Hebrew University and a semester at Tel Aviv University along with several trips while I was working. I almost made aliyah but the lack of an equivalent job opportunity in Israel put my aliyah plans on hold.

What does the idea of 'girl power' mean to you? 

Gina outside one of the Mickey Fine pharmacies she co-owns with husband 
Jeffrey Gross (third from right). For the 50th anniversary of the business, 
the couple made gifts to the Beverly Hills Fire Department and JNF. 
As a graduate of Wellesley, the power of women has always been a passion and a priority. I am the mother of three girls and I look for strong leaders within my business. Girl power is about inspiring and empowering others. It is about bringing together a community of women to achieve a goal.

If you could teach one lesson to the next generation about being a woman involved in the Jewish community, what would it be? 

This is a lesson I try to live wherever possible with my daughters. I bring them to JNF and Jewish events whereever possible. We have to make Israel important, meaningful, and hands-on to our children. My kids visit Israel each year with us or on programs. This is our priority for us and for them.

Do you think women's giving differs from that of men. If so, why? 

Some of my very best friends have come from connections I made through JNF with amazing women younger than me and older than me from varied parts of LA and varied levels of observance. We embrace them and have created a community committed to Israel and the work we do together. We are working hard to extend this with a new program launching this fall in Los Angeles.      

Is there an area of JNF that touches your heart more than another? 
    I am a JNFaholic. I serve as the co-chair of the women's campaign in Los Angeles and serve on JNF's Women for Israel national board. I also co-chaired JNF's Water Summit in Los Angeles and serve on the National Water Task Force. I also serve on our Israel Firefighters Task Force. We love the Israel Firefighters and have focused where possible on giving directed at the Jerusalem Fire Station. 
    Gina Raphael and husband Jeffrey Gross at Mickey Fine, a pharmacy with
    a soda fountain.  
    We are especially connected to Halutza and when completed we will have a pharmacy in the medical center named for our company -- Mickey Fine Pharmacy. We are putting in place a dedication this summer to my husband's grandfather, an avid Zionist and American, at Ammunition Hill. We can think of no greater way to honor his memory than having it live on forever there. 

    And our passion for Israel continues with programs to follow for HaShomer HaChadash as our women come together in the fall 2016 to help the group achieve its goals. This is the power of the women of JNF!