On Yom Ha’atzmaut, which occurred just a few weeks ago, the State of Israel celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding. Just as the Jewish people worldwide honored the past on Yom Ha’atzmaut and honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on Yom Hazikaron, they also must think ahead to the future.
As the executive director for Israel Bonds/The Development Corporation for Israel, the work I do helps strengthen the state for the foreseeable future. Israel Bonds’ marketing language may say that it is more than a bond, it is a bond with Israel.
On a recent walk Melanie Moreno around The Hebrew Bible section of The Museum of the Bible in Southwest DC, the avid volunteer and philanthropist spoke about her motivation to support the Jewish State and her personal bond with Israel.
“When I think of Israel, I think of family,” said Moreno.
Honored together with her husband René by Israel Bonds last year, Moreno has dedicated herself to helping Israel. In addition to serving as the chairperson for Israel Bonds Washington, Melanie Moreno serves as a national vice chair for Israel Bonds’ National Campaign Advisory Council. As a group, they help support the organization’s efforts, which has resulted in over $40 billion sold worldwide since Israel Bonds’ inception.
Additionally, Moreno is a big proponent of Israel Bonds’ double-mitzvah program, where bonds are purchased and donated to charities or schools. Through the program, the bond investment goes to support the development of Israel; once it matures, rather than being paid out to the purchaser, the proceeds are paid to the charitable mission along with interest payments that are paid at maturity, or twice a year, depending on the bond. She spends a great deal of time sharing her story about purchasing bonds and donating them to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and to the American Technion Society. Her volunteerism and support of these organizations help support the economy of Israel, the land of Israel, the people of Israel, and the future competitiveness of Israel through educating tomorrow’s Israeli leaders.
Within JNF, Moreno volunteers on the local board and helps advance the mission of the Special in Uniform program, which helps integrate Israeli youth with disabilities into the IDF and also prepares them for careers following their army service so they can better assimilate into the broader Israeli workforce.
Moreno didn’t go to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, but her father was involved with the institution. She is proud to express today that, “Fifty-eight percent of Israeli companies on Nasdaq are founded or run by Technion graduates,” which leads to the economic and innovative advancement of the Jewish State. She is involved with the American Technion Society’s work to support the needs of the Technion and their diverse student body of Jewish and non-Jewish students alike — and one where 40 percent of the students are female. Moreno and her husband recently hosted an event at their home with a Technion professor on his innovative research and she will soon be visiting the Guangdong-Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) in China as a part of the American Technion Society’s leadership development program.
Moreno recently served as an event chair with Sarah Elpern, Carla Freed, Sherry Kabran, Helene Kahan, Jenn Rafael, Robin Thompson, and Andi Wirpel for the Israel Bonds Washington Women’s Division and Hadassah Greater Washington joint program “Israeli Cocktails and Couture” at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Northern Virginia. The event featured Israeli fashion blogger Liraz Cohen Mordechai discussing the history of Israeli fashion from 1909 to today. The program required a minimum $100 Israel bond purchase that was donated to Hadassah through the double-mitzvah program. It is the start of Israel Bonds’ renewed focus into doubling down to engage the Jewish and non-Jewish community of Northern Virginia.
When Moreno thinks of Israel as family, it is not an abstract thought. Moreno’s earliest known relatives immigrated to pre-state Israel in the 1930s. Subsequent waves of family members immigrated there in the 1960s and late 1970s. Today she has family members who live there year-round. Her son Alex lived and worked in Israel for two years, including a five-month MASA Israel program. Her grandfather’s final wishes were to be buried in Eretz Israel, although he never lived there. He chose to be laid to rest in Israel because of his love of Israel and the historical significance of the land to the Jewish people. That leads to four generations with a direct and personal familial connection to Israel.
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.