Chai Bond Builds Bridges to Israel
Chai Bond Builds Bridges to Israel
Picture this: a teenager soon after becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah receives a package in the mail. Opening it, the newly minted adult finds a beautiful piece of artwork that represents not only a sound investment but a connection with the State of Israel, a connection that helps ensure the future development and security of the Jewish homeland.
This is what Israel Bonds hopes is happening all over the country when parents or synagogues purchase a new State of Israel Chai Bond as a gift for a child to celebrate all sorts of simchas.
Founding Israel Bonds in 1950, David Ben-Gurion gave it the twin goals of developing the State of Israel and connecting Diaspora Jewry with the Jewish homeland. The over $22 billion in direct investment capital raised since its inception far exceed Ben-Gurion's most optimistic dreams, and the hundreds of thousands of bond-holders who today have a direct stake in the nation's future have helped give Israel the broad support of American Jewry.
The Chai Bond is meant to meet both these goals and to nurture a whole new generation of bondholders and give them a personal stake in Israel.
The interest-bearing Chai Bond is priced at an affordable $136 and matures in five years at $180. It is designed to appeal to parents and grandparents to give as Bar and Bat Mitzvah gifts or to give to a child at any simcha. Not only does it foster in the child a sense of a personal stake in Israel's future but it helps teach the benefits of saving for the future.
Adding to its appeal is the special certificate that comes along with every Chai Bond. These beautiful certificates are individual pieces of artwork commissioned by Bonds and produced by some of Israel's leading artists. The first certificate presented a moving rendition of Israel's Declaration of Independence, which was signed on May 14, 1948. Subsequent certificates have included the Jerusalem-based artist Calman Shemi's lively impression of his own city and Ardyn Halter's tilework design of a garden with the Tower of David on the horizon. For the newest certificate, Israel artist Armand Edery took as his inspiration the beautiful mosaic floors found in many ancient synagogues in Israel. At the center of his mosaic stands the majestic Old City bathed in the coppery-gold of sunset.
"Our goal with the Chai Bond is to connect a whole new generation of young Jews to the Jewish homeland," said Gideon Patt, president and CEO of Israel Bonds. "Through the Chai Bond they develop a tangible link to Israel and also learn the value of saving. As their own small investment increases in value, they can also watch the State of Israel develop materially. I believe this connection is very important, because it helps teach a sense of responsibility to Israel and to the future."
Sales of the Chai Bond have been strong and climbing. In 1999, when the Bond was introduced, sales were over 14,000. During the first seven months of this year sales have already topped 20,000 and show no sign of slowing up.
"The Chai Bond is one of the most successful bonds we have ever introduced," said Patt. "We have already helped build a connection to Israel in 35,000 young people."
One of the most successful aspects of the introduction of the Chai Bond is how it has been received by synagogues and Hebrew schools. The Chai Bond Initiative Program, currently chaired by Rabbi Gregory Marks of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has set itself the goal of putting Chai Bonds into every synagogue and Hebrew school across the country. At synagogues, they have become very popular gifts for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
"Synagogues often buy the bonds for the teenagers or encourage parents to do so at this important time in their lives," said Rabbi Yaacov Rone, national director of Synagogue and Rabbinic Activities at Bonds. "Some synagogues have Twinning programs where the parents purchase one Chai Bond and the synagogue purchases a second one." He added, "I am truly delighted at how overwhelming the response has been."
However, the enthusiasm of Rabbi Rone is quite surpassed by the delight of a teenager receiving a beautiful Chai Bond certificate and the budding sense of connection to the Jewish homeland that it helps to build.
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