Dec 21, 2017  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Travel,

JNF Staff Spotlight: Kate Samuels takes Israel to Jews in small towns

Kate, far left, with JNF lay leaders at the National Conference in Florida this November.

"I don't follow college sports." The dinner table fell silent. It became increasingly clear that my vast knowledge on Israel would not help me here. College football was THE religion in this small town, and I had just declared I wasn't a part of it.

That was my first experience in a small-town Jewish community. Growing up in Connecticut, I gave little thought to what it meant to be Jewish or have Jewish friends. And college football was definitely not a religion where I came from. 

After my first trip to a small Jewish community in the south, I became fascinated and intrigued by those who CHOSE to live in a small town and maintain their commitment to Israel and Judaism. Being Jewish in a small Jewish community requires dedication and commitment. Throughout my years of working in small communities, I have met tremendous individuals who are working day in and day out to ensure a strong Jewish future for their children. And it's not easy for them.  
With Vivian Grossman, co-chair of
JNF's social media committee. 

I was given the opportunity to work with Jewish National Fund's small-communities initiative to continue my passion for engaging and fostering these communities. Additionally, I've recently begun to work with my fellow colleagues and donors to serve on the Nefesh B’Nefesh Task Force. While I am engaging communities across the Southeast who are making a choice to live in small towns, the work NBN is doing is fulfilling people’s dreams of making aliyah.  JNF has a unique voice, and I'm excited to share that voice throughout my travels across the Southeast. 

While my college football knowledge has only slightly improved since my first dinner in the position, my desire to connect those who seek a connection to JNF is constantly growing. I look forward to bringing educational resources, speakers, and personalized travel to Israel through JNF across the Southeast and the country.  

While it may have been a lot "easier" to develop major cities with active Jewish communities, the heart and soul of these small towns drew me in and continues to excite me. And while JNF may be able to offer indispensable resources across the country, the imprints of these communities have given me more than I ever could have imagined.