More than 600 attendees gathered at Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) annual Breakfast for Israel, held on Nov. 28 at the Skirball Cultural Center, to express their support for the Jewish state, stand strong against antisemitism and support the work of JNF-USA.
The breakfast coincided with Giving Tuesday, a day of global philanthropy held on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
“Every year, JNF-USA has a national matching grant to leverage Giving Tuesday,” JNF-USA Greater Los Angeles Director Neuriel Shore told the Courier in a phone interview. “We schedule the L.A. breakfast to be on that day to incentivize people to give.”
In attendance at the early morning breakfast were four survivors of the Oct. 7 shooting spree at an Israeli music festival, where nearly 300 young Israelis were gunned down by Hamas terrorists.
According to JNF-USA, Daniel Sharabi; Neriya Sharabi; Shalev Yehoshua; and Oshari Coen, the survivors, “were deeply moved to see Los Angeles gathering in support of the Jewish Homeland.”
Additional attendees included Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold, Beverly Hills Fire Chief Greg Barton and members of the Beverly Hills Fire Department. As Jewish people around the world are facing sharp increases in antisemitism and Israel is combatting criticism over its retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip, JNF-USA leadership acknowledged the city of Beverly Hills’ longstanding solidarity with the State of Israel.
“Beverly Hills, in general, has been extremely [supportive],” Shore, head of JNF-USA’s regional chapter, said. “Let’s just say the city is a haven for the Jewish community. The past several mayors have been Jewish and very pro-Israel—whether Julian Gold or Lili Bosse or John Mirisch, all these people are very pro-Israel and are friends of JNF-USA. Every year at our Breakfast for Israel, we have some sort of Beverly Hills representation.”
Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Israel Bachar also turned out.
The total amount of funds raised at the recent event was not immediately available. But in response to the October massacre of approximately 1,200 Israeli civilians in the country’s southern region, JNF-USA has raised $30 million for emergency relief in Israel, according to Shore. Funds are aiding the 300,000 Israelis who were evacuated from their homes in the aftermath of the attack.
JNF-USA is also providing trauma therapy, food security, and firefighting and protective equipment as well as assistance for the elderly, the infirm and soldiers.
The annual Breakfast for Israel is a complimentary event that encourages charitable giving. Past breakfasts have featured high-profile pro-Israel speakers, including pollster Frank Luntz and Alon Ben-Gurion, grandson of Israel’s first prime minister.
JNF-USA chapters across the country convene the breakfasts. Typically, the annual gathering in Los Angeles is held at a venue in the city, such as the Beverly Hilton or Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel.
But this year, for the first time, it took place at the Skirball Cultural Center as part of an effort to attract not only Westside attendees but JNF-USA supporters from the Valley as well.
Inside the Skirball on Nov. 28, large Israeli flags draped the walls. Cups of coffee and glasses of orange juice, along with plates of croissants and fresh fruit, lined the banquet tables. As the Special in Uniform band performed Matisyahu’s “One Day,” attendees waved tiny blue-and-white flags from their seats.
Special in Uniform, an affiliate of JNF-USA, provides young adults with disabilities and autism the opportunity to train and serve on Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bases, underscoring the IDF commitment to not only a military role-but also a social one. Ultimately, the goal of the program is enhancing inclusion and integration throughout Israeli society.
“To my knowledge, there’s no other military in the world that goes to such lengths to address soldiers with special needs while having them shine,” Shore said. “Members of the Special in Uniform Band serve as ambassadors for the innovative program.”
Israel Defense Forces Lieutenant Colonel (Res.) Tiran Attia, director of Special in Uniform, spoke at the breakfast. He sat on a panel along with Rabbi Dr. Mark Goldfeder, director of the National Jewish Advocacy Center, and Fresno State Professor Erin Stafford Dormedy, a recent participant of JNF-USA’s faculty fellowship, enabling non-Jewish academics to travel to Israel and connect with Israeli peers.
Husband-and-wife Robin Nourmand and Sepideh Makabi co-chaired the event.
In his remarks, Nourmand, a member of the JNF-USA Los Angeles board, highlighted the power of people gathering at such a challenging time for Israel and the world.
“Together, we are one family,” Nourmand said. “While our hearts have broken, it is together that we heal, build, and triumph over hatred and evil.”