Ahead of its Global Conference for Israel, the Los Angeles division of Jewish National Fund-USA held its annual Breakfast for Israel at the Skirball Cultural Center on November 28. Around 600 supporters of Israel gathered to listen to speakers, eat breakfast and enjoy music from the Special in Uniform band, a group of disabled and special needs IDF soldiers who sang for the audience. Two empty tables were set aside with photos of kidnapped hostages, and survivors of the Nova music festival were there as well.
The event featured speakers from the Los Angeles region, including breakfast co-chairs and married couple Sepideh Makabi and Robin Nourmand, along with Lou Rosenberg, executive director of Jewish National Fund-USA’s LA division. According to Rosenberg, 300,000 Israelis have been displaced since October 7, and JNF-USA is working with 55 communities along the Gaza border that are in need. They have also raised $38 million to benefit Israel since that horrific day.
“We will rebuild our communities in the western Negev bigger, better and safer.” – Lou Rosenberg
“When we have won this war and many other great Jewish philanthropic groups have done their work, we will rebuild our communities in the western Negev bigger, better and safer,” he said.
Rabbi Dr. Mark Goldfeder, CEO at the non-profit legal advocacy group National Jewish Advocacy Center, got on stage to host a panel that included Lt. Col. Tiran Attia, one of the founders of the Special in Uniform band, and Professor Erin Stanford Dormedy, who works at California State University, Fresno. Dormedy, who called herself an “Irish Catholic Zionist,” discussed why college students have become so anti-Israel and antisemitic.
“So many of them get their news from TikTok,” she said. “They are so easily swayed. There is a lack of critical thinking.”
The professor encouraged the audience to combat this troubling trend by “inviting some college kids to your home… Let them see the beauty and truth of Judaism.”
Goldfeder, an attorney, said he is working hard to hold student groups on campus accountable for supporting terror.
“Even before October 7, 75% of Jewish students said they faced antisemitism on campus,” he said.
Attia talked about the IDF and the military operation in Gaza, emphasizing that the mission won’t be complete until Hamas is eradicated.
“We are in a situation in which we are doing everything in our power to release the hostages,” he said. “Sometimes, we are paying a very heavy price. We will continue to work and fight until the last one is home. More than that, there will be no more Hamas in Gaza.”
Attia also provided a hopeful statistic about Israel.
“More than 150% of reservists came to be part of this war,” he said. “Something happened October 7. We needed an outside enemy to be united.”
Since October 7, JNF-USA has helped hundreds of thousands of displaced residents find shelter, provided care packages to soldiers on the front lines in Gaza and have worked to rebuild the communities in the Gaza Envelope, on the border. The organization is also hosting a number of volunteer trips to Israel from the U.S., where volunteers can spend time with evacuees, cook for those in need, provide assistance in daycares, pick vegetables to help the farmers and volunteer at army bases to support the 350,000 Israelis serving in the IDF and reserves.
The Breakfast for Israel event promoted solidarity and strength, with many speakers signing off with, “Am Yisrael Chai.” As for Goldfeder, who is concerned about the rise in antisemitism, he offered some words of hope to the crowd.
“It may seem bleak,” he said. “But slowly and surely, we are gaining our footing.”