On December 24th, 1920, The World Zionist Congress in London launched “Keren Hayesod”, Hebrew for “The Foundation Fund,” now known in English as the United Israel Appeal.

The foundation’s main goal was to raise money for the Zionist movement and fulfill the Balfour Declaration’s promise of a Jewish homeland in the British Mandate for Palestine. The declaration released by Lord Balfour was a clear British statement supporting Jewish independence in Palestine. It is considered by most a milestone in Zionist development, and a direct contributor to the foundation of modern Israel. 

The organization eventually connected with philanthropists and other organizations around the world and collected enough money to help tens of thousands of Jews fleeing Europe to reach Mandatory Palestine throughout the decades to come leading to Israel’s independence. 

The organization not only paid for Jews to immigrate to the British mandate but also helped the returning Jews develop economic, educational, and cultural groups in both urban and rural settlements to facilitate absorption into society. The United Israel Appeal was responsible in its early years for reviving Jewish culture within Israel, along with creating financial opportunities that would develop into the modern successful Israeli economy. 

“Keren Hayesod” was recognized as one of Israel’s “national institutions,” along with the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization and The Jewish National Fund. It is eventually designated as the state’s official overseas fundraising organization, with branches in 45 countries around the globe. 

The organization has adapted to the needs of modern Israel throughout the years, and currently funds many informative campaigns about the history and developments of Jewish presence in Israel. One of these initiatives is called “Masa”, which according to the United Israel Appeal’s website “is the leader in immersive international experiences in Israel for young Jews from around the world. Since its founding in 2004, Masa has tripled the number of young Jews coming to Israel for programs of 2-12 months. Annually, more than 12,000 young Jews aged 18-30 years old enjoy Masa’s 200 accredited programs.”

Working alongside the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government, the organization has embedded itself within the “Aliyah” industry which strives to complete the endless Zionist ambition of returning all Jews to Israel. Through their projects in rural development, education and housing aid for the elder in Israel, The United Israel Appeal still remains a major contributor to the success of the Jewish state.


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