Many of the Washingtonian families, individuals, foundations, pension funds, and institutions who purchased Israel bonds as a part of their investment portfolio before I joined Israel/Israel Bonds Washington as executive director for Development Corporation for Israel last year. After all, Israel Bonds have been around since 1951; and as the recent profile piece on Bruce Pascal highlighted in Kol HaBirah, his grandfather was the first person in our community to buy an Israel bond that year. From generation to generation, l’dor v’dor, the importance of investing in Israel continues beyond the Pascals.
The Israel Bonds Washington New Leadership Division is a volunteer led group of 21-45 year old young professionals. It is chaired by Jason Langsner, and Carolina Gartenberg serves as vice-chair.
“To me, the most tangible thing a Jewish man or woman in the diaspora can do to support Israel is to make aliyah, and the second most tangible thing is to support the country economically," said Langsner. "I choose Israel Bonds as one of my ways to do that.”
In 2016, sales of bonds to young professionals increased 76 percent year-to-year in the Washington area, and there was no resting on our laurels in 2017.
We began 2017 with a kick-off strategic planning discussion at Char Bar. That led to young investors attending the Israel Bonds Prime Minister’s Club Dinner and leadership weekend in Miami. The discussion also led to our group partnering with a Jewish communal group and a local synagogue to offer two young professional Shabbat dinner options on the Friday night before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in March.
We continued the momentum into our second quarter, beginning with a dinner at the home of Rick Zitelman in Bethesda, Maryland. Next, we worked with Michael Medina, president and CEO of Medina Cuisine Caterers, to host a Sephardic Shabbat Dinner at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland, and co-hosted a rooftop concert with FIDF. Investors from our Medical Division visited Stephen Hoffman, chief executive and science officer, Sanaraia, Inc., in his Rockville, Maryland, office; and in partnership with Jewish Women International, our Womens Division co-hosted a dessert reception and book talk with author Lisa Barr in DC.
In June, members of our community participated in the Israel Bonds National Leadership Conference in Los Angeles. At one of our most successful events of the year for Israel bond sales, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett spoke to Israel Bonds investors in New York City.
Our focus for the third quarter was on selling bonds and hosting two marquee events. For the seventh sold-out year, Israel Bonds New Leadership hosted event and kosher lunch at Nationals Park to watch the Nats take on the Rockies from two party suites, thanks to the generosity of the Washington Nationals, the Lerner family, and Irwin Raij of New York. At second event, hosted in the Potomac home of Debra and Dennis Berman, investors shared a private dinner with Israel Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
As the year came to a close, our engagement with the community continued: New Leadership Vice Chairperson Carolina Gartenberg participated in the Women’s Division Delegation to Israel, and five other members of our DC New Leadership group attended the Bonds Bootcamp leadership development program in Austin.
“The Israel Bonds Bootcamp was not only an amazing networking experience and opportunity to learn more about Israel, but also a way to show our solidarity with the Jewish state,” said Cameron Erickson, a political consultant living in DC. “The panels and sessions were engaging and enlightening, especially hearing from some of the top IDF officers and social entrepreneurs.”
We held two local events for young professionals as well. At a financial literacy workshop for our New Leaders, chaired by Eva Davis, I spoke about how Israel bonds can play a role in a diversified portfolio, and Kevin Fishkind (First Vice President, Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley) provided an overview about general investing. At a beer tasting, brunch, and tour of Atlas Brewery during Chanukah, guests heard from Carolina and Jonathan “Pano” Gartenberg about why they support Israel Bonds.
“The ROI [return on investment] I get in Israel Bonds is more than the interest rate on my investments," Langsner said. "I’ve met countless friends, have professionally networked to grow my small business, and I’ve felt a deeper connection to the State of Israel through my volunteerism.”
By Adam Herman
Adam Herman is the executive director for Israel Bonds, managing the greater MD/DC/VA region. He's lived in the DC area for over 20 years, and currently resides in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife and four amazing kids.