Mar 21, 2017  By Geri Shatz  Category: Travel,

A love letter to my JNF mission

Members of JNF's board of directors, including the author, on their recent mission to Israel. 

A love letter to my JNF mission. Really? Yes, really.

I love to travel with you, even though you drive me crazy. You plan visits to the sites I want to see, but you act as if we'll never return and cram them in. You take me to the loveliest hotels and don't remind me of that when I complain about the shabbier ones. You begin my days so early I'm unprepared for the weather and end them taking me to communities in the dark. You're patient when I don't hear your instructions and intemperate when the bus driver doesn't.

You always give me too much to eat, but you never point out that no one forces me to eat all the chocolate. You talk too much and I tell you so. You remind me that I do the same. Luckily, you provide liquor when called for.

Then there are the people you bring into my life.

Geri, far right. 
They share stories with me that perhaps only the closest people in the world outside the mission know, about their origins and losses and triumphs. I trust them with my cherished beliefs and also my random ones. They don't mind if my opinion is different from theirs. They tell me jokes, most of which are groaners, but some that dawn on me five minutes too late.

They're good friends, or new friends, or friends who knew me when I was 12. They gossip, I carp, then we reach out to someone who's in pain or needs a hand getting off the bus. Sometimes they offer misguided opinions, which I indulge, but when I ask a question they don't stint on a resonant response.They give appropriate advice, to which I listen.

As for you, JNF mission, as we interact, we strengthen our perception of the vision we share and knowledge of the work needed to bring it to reality. I offer you my romanticized love of a land history deemed I would not be born in and you show me a gritty and beautiful reality of courage and determination as, together, we succeed.

New York City resident Geri Shatz, secretary of JNF's national board, became a lifetime Sapphire Society member with a gift of a life insurance policy. She formerly chaired the Sapphire Society and served as president of JNF's Bucks County region, and now is head of JNF's Yerucham Task Force and a member of the Century Council and Makor.