White Plains Businessman Makes Israel Green
with Memorial Forest Achievement
By Ryan Torok
For Jeremy Abramson, the idea of a family tree is much more than a metaphor – it’s a way to keep his father’s memory and legacy alive.
The husband, father and The Premier Collection Vice President, has raised $50,000 for Jewish National Fund-USA over the course of 10 years, with the funds earmarked for a forest of 10,000 trees to be planted in remembrance of his late father, adding to the more than 240 million trees already planted in Israel throughout JNF-USA’s history. As the former President of the JNF-USA Westchester and Southern Connecticut Board, this is the latest achievement in a lifelong commitment to the organization.
“There are so many amazing projects in Israel that JNF-USA has been involved in. I’ve had a strong connection to trees since planting one with my very own hands during my Bar Mitzvah trip in 1988, so this will be a living testament to my dad,” Abramson, 47, a board member of JNF-USA’s Westchester region, said in a recent interview. “There will be something in Israel alive with his name on it. That was a motivating factor in it.”
Michael Feinman, the Executive Director, Tri-State for JNF-USA shares how moving Abramson’s commitment is, “this has truly been a long-term labor of love. With the support of his family, friends, and synagogue, Jeremy has worked tirelessly towards and now accomplished the incredible goal he set for himself. We are all inspired by his dedication.”
As members of Young Israel of White Plains, Abramson’s family has longstanding ties to Israel and JNF-USA, and his own children’s involvement represents five generations of family members who have been active in the organization.
“Our kids, ages 14, 12 and 8 are fifth-generation JNF-USA supporters. Whenever we visit Israel, we plant trees with JNF-USA,” he said.
The longstanding family connection is a point of pride for Abramson and has helped him make his mark on the local Jewish community. Speaking of Jeremy and his wife Amy, Westchester and Southern Connecticut JNF-USA Board President and friend of the couple Diana Sklar said, “The family legacy and commitment that Jeremy and Amy have perpetuated over many years with the funding of this forest is truly remarkable. The memory of his father to whom it’s dedicated, will live on forever in these trees and remind generations to come of the great importance JNF-USA is to this family. Jeremy is an active 4th generation supporter of JNF-USA, passing on his love, both with his time as past president as well as the establishment of this forest, to his children- the 5th generation. We are truly grateful for all that he and Amy do.”
After Abramson’s father, David, died in 2007 of lung cancer, Abramson launched the David I. Abramson Memorial Fund. Whenever there was an appropriate occasion to do so, Abramson and his family donated money to the collection.
“Anytime somebody needed a refuah shlema, or somebody passed away, we put money in the fund,” he said. “This really became a part of the family’s day-to-day Jewish expression,” says Rebecca Zimilover, JNF-USA Director of Westchester and Southern Connecticut, “for the Abramsons every dollar represented a positive moment, a hope, or a prayer, and every tree will be a living testament to that.”
In January, the fund exceeded its $50,000 goal.
The accomplishment would make Abramson’s father proud. He was a CPA in Baltimore who arranged for his own sister – Abramson’s aunt – to make aliyah when she was a teenager. He subsequently passed down a love of Israel to his children.
“He loved Israel like you can’t imagine,” Abramson said, recalling his father taking him to Israel for his bar mitzvah in 1988. While there, the family visited the Tel Aviv beaches, and it was a site one would hardly recognize today.
“Israel was a lot different in 1988,” Abramson said. “There were Jeeps on the beach with machine guns while you’re swimming. It was a different ballgame then.”
Also, different then and now: Israel’s south. Abramson, who estimates he has been to Israel seven or eight times, marveled at how much Be’er Sheva has developed over the years, in large part because of the efforts of JNF-USA.
Abramson joined the JNF-USA board in 2007 and served as President from 2007-2009. For the past 15 years, he has spread the word about JNF-USA among friends and neighbors in his community, which, he said, is strongly supportive of Israel.
“JNF-USA is an easy sell. It’s always been an easy sell, especially when you see how far the reach is and how many things they are involved in,” he said. “Couple the mission with some cool get-togethers, some cool parties, it’s not too hard to get people together on behalf of JNF-USA.”