Nina Paul Leads Women for Israel
It is no surprise that women give big when it comes to charitable contributions according to Jewish National Fund (JNF) Women for Israel (WFI) President Nina Paul, of Cincinnati, OH.
A recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute concludes that women are more likely to give than their male counterparts, and Nina Paul sees it every day as she travels across the U.S. talking about Israel and the need to support the land and its people.
“It’s a known fact that women today give to causes where they can see the difference they are making,” says Paul. “For Jews, Israel remains our homeland and we have a responsibility to take care of it now more than ever. While we may not be sending our children to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), we can certainly send our dollars to support the country.”
JNF’s WFI campaign began in 1998 with the creation of the Sapphire Society under the leadership of Terry L. Katz, of Philadelphia, PA, who now serves as JNF’s assistant vice president, Israel Action. The Sapphire Society, which requires a minimum of $5,000 to join, has raised more than $50 million in 10 years.
Paul, a 29-year active donor to JNF and vice president of WFI for the last three years, along with her team of ten, make up WFI’s executive board. They oversee a national board of 50, which also includes JNF’s fastest growing demographic, JNFuture (comprised of individuals between the ages of 23-40). The national board manages conference calls, workshops, and meetings to share ideas, inspire others, devise engaging presentations, and involve chapters across the nation. Louise Dabrow, the immediate past president of WFI introduced the concept to form WFI where previously there only existed a Sapphire board.
As an example of sharing creative ideas, the Denver chapter designed a program of eight parlor meetings annually with unique speakers, and hosted by area women that has attract 100 new members, who in turn have raised revenue exponentially. Unsurprisingly, the Denver model has become a prototype across the U.S. for WFI fundraising. Likewise, the WFI chapter in Phoenix has grown from 115 women who raised $85,000 to hundreds more active members who have raised $4.4 million over the last year.
Paul links women’s shared common local interests and a ‘love for Israel’ to the growing success WFI has witnessed. “Like Denver, the women I speak with across the country are energetic and involved in other Jewish organizations, such as Hadassah and the Federations, but they all come together to adopt a ‘unity of community’ philosophy, all working for a common cause, our beloved Israel.”
WFI’s key objectives for 2016 include raising $20 million for every $100 million the national annual campaign brings in while gathering women in each region of the U.S. to become active participants. To accomplish this, Paul has assigned herself a busy schedule of traveling to communities across the country to meet new donors and start up WFI chapters.
“We’ve seen incredible development in the Los Angeles area over the last few years, which has sparked tremendous growth in Sapphires, Chai ($1,800), and Women’s Alliance members ($360). The events are interesting and engaging and draw in women, enabling everyone to participate at their comfort level” says Paul.
According to Paul, JNF’s Blueprint Negev campaign, a master-plan focusing on transforming Southern Israel into a region capable of offering good job and living opportunities, has the Sapphire Society to thank for the concept: “The town of Zukim in the Central Arava was a brainchild of JNF women. Where there were once only sand dunes, a new community has developed that is both entrepreneurial and a great tourist destination. That vision helped to inspire JNF to develop the Negev, bringing to life Ben Gurion’s dream.”
Prior to picking up the mantle of WFI chair Paul had a 30-year career in the jewelry world before selling her business, Nina Paul Jewelry Company, in 2007. She is a past president of Cincinnati’s largest Conservative synagogue, Adath Israel Congregation, co-chair of the Israel and Oversees Council and the Partnership Together committee of the Jewish Federation, and is currently co-chairing, along with her husband Eddie, Hillel’s major fundraiser. She also remains involved on the executive board of her local JNF chapter.
Paul is the mother of three children: Lainey, 23, a graduate of the Alexander Muss High School in Israel and who made aliyah to Israel; and 21-year old twin boys Max and Jake. Her son Max had a brain tumor resected at 8-years old. Along with her husband she created the Max Paul Brain Tumor Fund at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to help kids with brain tumors and TBI reenter their schools and communities.
Her son’s special needs moved her to get JNF involved in so many areas serving people with disabilities throughout Israel. "Women are drawn to the needs of children and people with disabilities. JNF's partnership and involvement with the many organizations that help these populations is truly inspirational. We all feel blessed to be doing our part in bettering the quality of life for every citizen in Israel.”