The Meaning of 'Family'
For Jill and Jim Riola, proud World Chairman's Council and President's Society members, there's only one word to describe Jewish National Fund: family.
Already active in their local Orlando Jewish community and synagogue, the Riolas' decision to get involved with JNF was a no-brainer. Jill became involved with JNF first, in 2007, when she joined the JNF Orlando Board of Directors. "I wanted to be part of a Jewish organization whose sole focus was Israel," she said. "A place where I knew my money would go directly to Israel and I knew how it would be used." Soon afterward, Jill became a Lifetime Sapphire Society member, and in 2015 she was appointed National Co-Chair of Lawyers for Israel, JNF's affinity group for attorneys. As co-chair of LFI, in June 2016 Jill coordinated a program featuring former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and Member of Knesset Michael Oren. The program was video-conferenced live from Israel to 14 law firms, as well as JNF offices, across the U.S. What most people didn't know was that Jill went to Israel on her own initiative to ensure the program ran smoothly, despite a few obstacles thrown in at the last minute.
Jim began his involvement with JNF in early 2009 when he traveled to Israel on JNF's Solidarity Mission following Operation Cast Lead. "I was a little hesitant going," he said. "There were rockets being launched by the thousands from Gaza, but I left Israel awestruck by the passion of the Israeli people and the other JNF members on the mission. The feeling was contagious and I was impressed with the work JNF was doing. I was hooked!" So hooked, in fact, he turned right around and went back for the opening of JNF's Sderot Indoor Recreation Center during Purim that March.
Following those trips, he joined JNF's Orlando Board of Directors, and served as its president for two years. Jim is now co-chair of both JNF's National Community Campaign and JNF's Ofakim Task Force.
In 2015, the Riolas sponsored a luncheon for Israel Defense Forces Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, founder of JNF partner ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran rehabilitative center, and his wife, Didi. At Almog's invitation, Jill joined JNF's Task Force on Disabilities. A few months later, while visiting Israel on JNF's $1 Billion Roadmap Mission, the couple visited ALEH Negev and were in awe of the life-changing work being done there. Jill said: "I met a little Arab girl at ALEH Negev and fell in love with her. After returning to the U.S., I sent her a teddy bear. I went back to Israel a few months later, had the opportunity to visit ALEH Negev with the Almogs, and was so excited to be able to actually see her with her teddy bear, and, once again, I saw just how much the work we fund there helps."
To ensure that their dedication and commitment to helping secure a bright future for the land and people of Israel continues, the Riolas have included a bequest to JNF in their Estate Plan. "JNF is our family and Jim and I are involved on such a deep and emotional level," said Jill. "We feel very strongly that it's important for us to leave behind a legacy that will help JNF continue to ensure a stronger, more secure Israel."
To learn more about leaving a legacy to JNF through a bequest in your will, visit jnflegacy.org or contact a planned giving specialist at 800.562.7526.