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Finding fortitude and philanthropy on Israel’s frontiers

Support for the land and people of Israel in action

David Greenbaum with two IDF soldiers
David Greenbaum with two IDF soldiers

Of all the things to do when you take time away from the office, scrubbing soccer balls with bleach likely doesn’t rank high – if at all – on the list.

But there’s no other activity that Jewish National Fund-USA partner (donor) David Greenbaum would have rather been doing, seated on the floor of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Sderot Indoor Recreation Center, helping get it ready to re-open for the hundreds of kids and their families moving back home after five months of evacuation in the aftermath of October 7.

David Greenbaum in Israel

It was something of a full circle moment, as Greenbaum had been at this site when it was just an empty warehouse some 15 years ago, with Jewish National Fund-USA CEO Russell Robinson who described the hopes of converting it into a fortified, missile-safe play space for the city’s children. Located just next to the border with Gaza, Sderot had endured near-constant rocket fire since the 2005 disengagement, and with less than a minute to seek shelter, children were no longer allowed to play outside. The indoor playground was the creative solution and Greenbaum was part of its original development, even receiving a rose forged out of a rocket in gratitude from the then-mayor of Sderot David Bouskila. Now, his labor would make it possible for the city’s children to play safely again.

“I came away optimistic about Israeli resilience,” said the Vice Chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, about his time on a 4-day volunteer mission to Israel, where along with 150 other participants he gardened, painted, cleaned, and worked agricultural fields – anything and everything needed to help the people of Israel through this most difficult time. “It just felt really good to help.”

Long involved with Jewish National Fund-USA, the Manhattan and Phoenix-based businessman serves on the organization’s National Board and is a member of its prestigious World Chairman’s Council. His commitment is inspired by a personal sense of pride in the Jewish People’s long history of overcoming adversity.

“I came away thinking that the Ner Tamid, the everlasting light in front of a Torah ark, represents the Jewish people; and that everlasting light continues to burn brightly. For centuries and millennia, the Jewish people have survived genocide and extinction, from the Egyptians, to the Greeks and the Romans, to the Pogroms and the Holocaust, and today to the Ayatollahs, and each time we have survived, become stronger and have continued to make the world a better place,” he said. “Being there, in Israel, I felt deeply that we will persevere.”

David Greenbaum (left) with Erel Margalit

David Greenbaum’s Jewish philanthropy is largely centered on Jewish National Fund-USA’s initiatives in northern Israel, where developing economic, educational, and infrastructure opportunities for the long-underserved region and its residents is of paramount importance.

He and his wife Laureine are major contributors to the Margalit Startup City incubator in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, a Jewish National Fund-USA partnership with local and international business organizations, where entrepreneurs can find the same amenities as they would in Tel Aviv.

Given Greenbaum’s long-standing vision for the north’s prosperity, it was no surprise to see him speak at a recent event for northern Israeli entrepreneurs who struggling with being evacuated from their homes and businesses and who are planning, eagerly, to return to their region to forge a beautiful future. The event was held near an area that has been evacuated due to threats from Hezbollah, and several friends advised Greenbaum not to travel that far north, but he believed it was important to be there in-person living out his values.

Said Michael Feinman, Jewish National Fund-USA Executive Director, Tri-State, “David and Laureine are true pillars of Jewish philanthropy, but what’s remarkable about them is that they give authentically of their whole selves. I wasn’t surprised to hear that David drove up north against advice to support entrepreneurs and dreamers in-person, because when it comes to building the future of Israel, he’s a doer.”

“We have a challenge today, but nothing will stop us,” said Greenbaum, addressing the assembled entrepreneurs, most of whom are living and working in hotel rooms designated for evacuees. Greenbaum spoke of the importance of developing the area and attracting new residents, businesses, and investors for the sake of Israel’s continued security and growth.

He did not mention bleach.

To support Jewish National Fund-USA’s Israel Resilience Campaign, visit To volunteer in Israel, visit

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