Do you imagine a pioneer woman on the frontier with a bonnet and a log cabin? That image doesn’t begin to describe three modern-day women who are bringing their unique leadership to the frontiers of Israel’s communities.

In honor of JNF-USA’s Women’s Month, Associate Director of JNF-USA’s Lauder Employment Center Tamar Gil Menachem, JNF-USA Liaison and Chief Development Officer for MAKOM Shosh Mitzman, and Director of JNF-USA’s Western Galilee Now Michal Shiloah Galnoor share their inspirational stories that impact women throughout the communities they’re building and providing models for women all over Israel.MAKOM’s Shosh Mitzman is turning JNF-USA’s vision into reality for thousands of women (Credit: JNF-USA)

Community building is the watchword for these three women, and the thread that connects them all is how women in each of the communities they serve have stepped up to make the lives of their families and their neighbors better. For all three, building communities begins with building relationships, and from their experience, women are particularly adept at this approach. 

For Tamar Gil Menachem and the Lauder Center, the task was to build up the Negev area through jobs. At most, 5{06d6670df80e02c0b1a51bdfaefb71b6e69ecb50fe99d893294764e2911a48c2} of young adults graduating from Ben Gurion University were staying in this culturally diverse area. JNF-USA entered the picture, envisioning the economic development needed – giving companies the pool of employees they needed, and the graduates the jobs they seek. Menahem convened the Human Resources Directors Forum to bring together HR professionals from leading companies to design strategies, offer scholarships, and establish internships that have already made a difference in the hiring pool. The Lauder Employment Center’s Tamar Gil Menachem is helping women in Israel’s Negev and Galilee build careers and dreams (Credit: JNF-USA)

Although a third of the high-tech workers in the area are women, they don’t always reach senior positions or even pay equity. The programs from the Center are making a difference: 40{06d6670df80e02c0b1a51bdfaefb71b6e69ecb50fe99d893294764e2911a48c2} of this year’s female internships have been offered full time jobs. But it’s not just about the women they help, it’s how they run the programs – holistic, collaborative discourse, an approach Menahem and her colleagues all feel is particularly conducive to women. And often, it’s easier to make a difference in the Israeli frontier; change is more apparent, and it offers an opportunity for women to step up and succeed. 

Collaboration drives results. In the Western Galil, Michal Shiloah Galnoor is a 5th generation Jerusalemite who spent most of her adult life in Tel Aviv, but she took her marketing background to one of Israel’s periphery regions and built the largest consortium of tourism providers. The Western Galilee Now organization was the first initiative of JNF-USA’s Go North campaign, bringing economic growth and stability to the region. 

Galnoor brought together vintners, cheesemakers, artists, tour guides, and more to present tours and festivals, enticing both Israelis and international travelers to explore the area. She opened the Akko Tourist Information Center and Art Gallery to highlight what the region has to offer. Through collaboration, women from diverse backgrounds, from traditional Druze villages to secular artists, have built this initiative among small, largely home-based businesses. 

Until recently, she worked with an all-female staff and noted that for the majority of the providers, the women in the family were running the businesses. These women have a way to express themselves. As in the Negev, the organization allows women in more traditional families to maintain their lifestyles while providing income for their families. The area has already seen a rise in women entrepreneurship, and she hopes the number will continue to grow even further. 

Shosh Mitzman was born in Chicago, made Aliyah with her parents, and chose a small immigrant town in which to advance her career. With her background in psychology and non-profit management, she was a great match for JNF-USA’s work in community building in the North. 

Under Mitzman’s leadership, MAKOM has built a network of 240 diverse communities to improve the residents’ lives through education, arts and culture, jobs, and more. About a third of the MAKOM communities were founded by women who saw a need in their communities and stepped up to fill that need. Now, over half of the next generation’s leaders are women. Mitzman turned small, unaffiliated, but successful programs into compelling stories to gain presence and support throughout the region. MAKOM will soon become the largest organization to improve the lives of Israelis on the peripheral areas. 

For each of these women, their own mothers provided early models of leadership, seeing how they were able to excel at both their work and their family lives. For the next generation, it’s crucial for daughters to see their mothers in leadership roles. Much like in the American frontier, strong women stood up to make a difference. For these three remarkable leaders, their strength, vision, and passion are making a difference now, and for future generations of Israeli women. 

Michal Shiloah Galnoor, Tamar Gil Menachem, and other leading women will share how they are empowering women throughout Israel on Thursday, June 17 at 1:00 pm ET at JNF-USA’s “Jewish Women Who Mean Business” virtual event. Women for Israel donors can attend this complimentary event at

In honor of Women’s Month, thanks to the generosity of Jayne Klein and Paula Gottesman, all donations will be matched up to $1 million through May 31, 2021. Go to to donate.

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