Our Legacy at 40 Years

27 June 2019

Forty years ago, after a group of liberal Jews from the San Francisco Bay Area met with a group of Israelis lawyers who were taking pro-bono cases, they had an idea. These American Jews knew that Israel was a young democracy. And they realized that if it was going to fulfill its promise, it would need a vibrant civil society to broaden civil rights and fight for equality.

Those visionaries founded the New Israel Fund as a partnership between Israelis working to create social change and their supporters around the world — a partnership that would empower the change-makers and civil society leaders in Israel defending the rights of minorities and fighting injustices of all kinds.

This year NIF is celebrating our 40th anniversary.

Over the past four decades we have accomplished so much together.

It’s my great privilege to be at the helm of the New Israel Fund as we celebrate 40 years of working to build a thriving democratic society in Israel.

Anniversaries are a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, to look back on all the good work we’ve done together, and to feel proud of our achievements, often in the face of great odds. And anniversaries are a time to look toward the horizon and recommit ourselves to a vision of what we hope to achieve over the next forty years.

We all know that Israeli democracy – indeed the very idea of liberal democracy itself – is facing unprecedented challenges. These are not short-term challenges. Fighting to protect liberal democracy takes sustained commitment—and it means keeping our eyes on the prize.

That’s why, in honor of our anniversary, we are launching a special Legacy Giving Campaign. The funds raised in this campaign will be used to help secure NIF’s future — and the future of Israel’s democracy. They will serve as the solid core of NIF’s enhanced endowment, providing us with financial stability over the long term, so that we can be certain that NIF remains an engine of democracy and equality in Israel. If we achieve our goal, the campaign will ensure NIF greater flexibility to address head on the issues threatening democracy and equality in Israel in the future.

For our 40th anniversary, our goal is to raise $40 million in legacy commitments.

And we’re over half-way there.

So far, thanks to the generosity of early participants, we have secured commitments to our future on the order of $28 million. That is because of the incredible dedication of NIF supporters who made major initial commitments (in their estate plans) who have decided that ensuring NIF’s future will be part of their legacy.

My wife Dana and I decided to make an early commitment to the 40th Anniversary Legacy Campaign to ensure that all of the work and love we have poured into the New Israel Fund continues to have an impact far into the future. We are committed to making sure that the health of the New Israel Fund is a major part of our legacy.

And this is something that all of us can do.

For the New Israel Fund, every single commitment, every supporter, matters to us, no matter the level of giving. Not only because every contribution is vital to supporting the work we do to advance democracy and equality in Israel, but also because we are a community. Your commitment means that you are counted.

Let me just say it out loud. There is a myth out there that legacy giving is only for the very wealthy. It’s just not true. Planning our legacy is something that all of us can do. It’s how we can make a mark on the causes and issues we care about so deeply—and ensure that we continue to do so well into the future.

So as you make your plans, as you think about what is most important to you, please consider including NIF in whatever way you can.

Visit to find out more about our Legacy Giving Campaign or reach out to Becky Buckwald, NIF’s Director of Planned Giving, to start that important conversation.

And happy 40th anniversary, NIF! May we continue to find inspiration in the values and vision that brought NIF into being in the first place—of an Israel truly at peace with itself.