300 Philanthropists Celebrate 'Israel at 75' at Annual Community Breakfast

On Wednesday, March 22, 2023, 300 Chicago-area philanthropists attended Jewish National Fund-USA's annual Breakfast for Israel at the North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park. The event, co-chaired by Lori Dekalo and Rebecca Derdiger, featured keynote speaker Olga Meshoe Washington and celebrated Israel's 75th year of independence.

Washington, a South African Christian, serves as the CEO of Defend Embrace Invest (in) Support Israel (DEISI) and is the National Director for Programming and Engagement at Club Z. Her keynote address focused on the strong history and ties between Africa and Israel, and the importance of being a vocal advocate for Israel.

"At Club Z, we challenge our young people, our Jewish young people, to be proud of who they are," said Washington. "There is no reason to apologize for being Jewish, to apologize for the State of Israel, when you understand who the Jewish people are and what they mean for the world."

The event also highlighted how Jewish National Fund-USA has built and continues to build a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education, supporting critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel's north and south, and connecting the next generation to Israel, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel.

Attendees were also encouraged to register for the first-ever Global Conference for Israel (, taking place in Denver from November 30-December 3, 2023.

For more information contact Ellen Spira Hattenbach, National Campaign Director, Midwest at or 847.656.8880 x760.

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