May 4, 2016
By Itzik Becher
Itzik Becher worked with Peter, Paul and Mary. Now he works for JNF
|From left: JNF CEO Russell Robinson, author Seth Siegel, JNF Desert States Executive Director Deb Rochford,|
and Itzik Becher.
Our JNF staff members are a varied and colorful bunch from all around the globe and all walks of life. Here, Major Gifts Director for Desert States Itzik Becher describes the meandering path that led to his current position, one he is palpably passionate about.
Most of my life I spent in the arts -- managing, producing, and representing the best artists from all over the world (Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band; Peter, Paul and Mary; Haris Alexiou; Dulce Pontes), and the most significant artists from Israel (Chava Alberstein, David Broza, Mayumana). Music was my life. In raising funds for every single production, I found great pleasure in being able to convince people to share their hard-labored wealth with what was important. Changing the world one by one, song by song, project by project.
I took a detour for three years, when I was managing director for UA Presents, the largest presenting organization in the Southwest, having the opportunity not only to raise money for the arts, but also program the season and see the results of my labor of love come to life on stage. A spectacular mission, and a wonderful position to be in.
Itzik and wife Pnina.
And then one sleepless night came the realization that something was missing. You can take the man out of Israel, but you can't take Israel out of the man. The desire to contribute to the greatest miracle of the 20th century, the place my parents escaped to and helped form, was irresistible. I am one who needs authenticity to move my world. When the opportunity to join JNF and fill the newly created position of major-gifts director for Desert States, I simply knew that’s where I ought to be. Being on a mission in Israel with newly appointed senior JNF directors was a life-altering experience. My great sabra cynicism was instantly taken over by the power of the spirit of JNF and our partners. Nothing prepared me for the grand building, deeds of great dedication, and most of all, the positivity of it all. Building a country.
A wise man once said that "fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving." We all know that when courage, genius, and generosity hold hands, all things are possible. This is what JNF does. Cultivating generosity toward bringing to life the vision for the land of Israel is a great honor for me.
Itzik, center, at the rodeo!
In every form of communication I have with our donors I am stunned and humbled by the graciousness of the communities. The generosity shown to our organization, the loyalty, and the dedication are tremendous. The understanding of the role JNF has in keeping the dream and desire to keep the mission of JNF alive is greatly impressive.
We all know that donors do not give to institutions, they invest in ideas and people in whom they believe. JNF brings big ideas info life. It’s exciting, fresh and again, above all, POSITIVE.