The Jewish National Fund-USA celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut with its annual Breakfast for Israel on April 18.
The Zoom program, titled “You, Me and Israel at 73,” featured Rona-Lee Shimon and Tsahi Halevi, stars of the hit Israeli-TV show “Fauda,” streaming on Netflix.
While most of the national audience was there for the star power of Shimon and Halevi, in Pittsburgh, high school senior Naomi Kitchen stole the show.
Kitchen is a Community Day School graduate and current Pittsburgh Allderdice High School student who spent 2018 attending Alexander Muss High School in Israel. During the JNF program, she announced her plans to make aliyah this summer and join the IDF as a lone soldier.
Asked why she wanted to make aliyah, Kitchen said, “Because of my Zionism — I want to be a part of the Jewish story. After learning what I learned, I know I want to be a part of it. I want my children to look back and say that I was part of this amazing chain of people. I also want to be stronger personally, mentally and physically, and I know the army will give that to me.”
A video highlighting JNF-USA’s work in Israel was screened at the breakfast. Judith Kline, JNF’s local co-chair, along with Ira Frank and Debbie Resnick, welcomed the Pittsburgh audience. Joe Goldston, co-president of JNF-Western Pennsylvania, also addressed the group.
Before the “Fauda” stars spoke, national co-chairs Jim Riola and Alyse Golden Berkley announced that JNF will be holding its first national conference in Israel, Oct. 10-14.
Afterward Shimon and Halevi were interviewed by Israeli commentator Yoav Limor for close to 30 minutes. The pair discussed their respective backgrounds, the exposure of an international audience to Israeli television programs, JNF’s new arts and entertainment task force and how COVID-19 has affected their work.
Shimon said that Season 4 of the popular program was supposed to start shooting in September but was postponed due to the pandemic, and she doesn’t know when shooting will resume — or any plot points.
Anyone interested in learning more about JNF-USA’s national conference in Israel should visit jnf.org/nc. PJC