Max Furer was only 11 years old when World War II broke out and his family fled from their hometown in Poland, beginning a multi-year journey that included Russia, Ukraine, a prison camp in Siberia, Kyrgystan, and 3 years in a Displaced Persons camp in West Germany. For Furer, Israel was a permanent home for the Jewish people that he enjoyed visiting and which meant so much to him that he ultimately left a generous bequest in his will to Jewish National Fund-USA. That gift, lovingly dedicated by his daughter and grandsons to the creation of a new neighborhood in Moshav Hatzeva in the Arava desert, through Jewish National Fund-USA’s Housing Development Fund, is allowing the creation of new homes for families seeking a better future.
“My dad was a builder,” explained his daughter, Dr. Karen Jonscher, in reference to why they chose to dedicate his bequest to Jewish National Fund-USA’s Housing Development Fund. “He loved building and he loved Israel. It was something I thought he would approve of.”
Dr. Jonscher and her four sons took their task of finding the right home for Furer’s bequest seriously, working closely with Jewish National Fund-USA to pick the perfect community to carry their father and grandfather’s legacy. Speaking about why they chose to support a town in the south, Jonscher said, “In the south, there’s so much innovation going on that it’s beginning to transform. It’s beautiful, and it’s very cleansing, it’s the kind of cleansing that gets down into your cells. Be’er Sheva’s development is a great example of the kind of transformation that Jewish National Fund-USA has done, and I think it can be done in other places within the Arava and the Negev too. This is where philanthropists in America can make a huge impact and meaningful change.”
Jonscher joined the Jewish National Fund-USA Housing Development Fund mission to Israel in March 2022 where a memorial plaque to her father was dedicated at Moshav Hatzeva.
Jewish National Fund-USA Chief Development Officer, Rick Krosnick, praised Dr. Jonscher for joining the recent mission. “Karen saw firsthand how her family’s investment in our Housing Development Fund is making a big impact and allowing Israelis to move from the expensive and congested center of the country to communities in the north and south, with a much lower cost of living.” Describing the community, he added, “Hatzeva is a remote community along the Jordanian border, but with very little natural water, produces a significant amount of Israel’s exportable crops.”
Dr. Jonscher believes that her father would have been moved by her experience visiting the community, where she heard a resident – also a mother of four sons, speak about how the new housing plots would allow her sons to return to the town with their growing families, that two already had purchased, and that this would allow her to spend Shabbat with her grandchildren – Furer’s own favorite part of the week. When it came time for the dedication ceremony, on a still, quiet day the veil on the plaque suddenly blew away, a sign, Jonscher said, that her father was watching and approved.