Carolina Gartenberg had already visited Israel six times. But there was something drawing her back for number seven: a five-night stay in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with 38 other American women to meet Israeli Israeli women politicians, entrepreneurs and community
“We were meeting — women [meeting] with women, and there’s something very special about that,” said Gartenberg, 27, a public relations professional in Washington.
The recent trip was organized by the Israel Bonds’ National Women’s Division, which encourages American women to invest in Israeli government bonds. Gartenberg got involved last year when the group held an event at a Washington Nationals game for new investors. The pitch was simple: Buy Israeli bonds, enjoy box seats.
Gartenberg said she was an easy sell. Her grandparents had invested in Israeli bonds. “If my grandparents could see the Israel of today, they would be very proud,” she said. “And they would be very proud that they invested.”
The point of the October trip was to showcase what investment does in Israel and to highlight the role of women in Israeli society, according to Michelle Klahr, the national director of the women’s division.
Gartenberg, a vice chair of the division’s Young Investors Society, said the Israeli women who made the biggest impression weren’t necessarily the most prominent or powerful.
She spoke about visiting with Mariuma Ben Yosef, who spent two years as a teenager living on the streets and now runs a housing campus in Tel Aviv for homeless youth that’s helped more than 40,000 young people, according to CNN.
The women also traveled to an Ethiopian cultural center to meet with a woman working to spread understanding of Ethiopian culture in Israel — in particular, the country’s farming methods.
“They were women that don’t necessarily see themselves as pioneers in their industry or change agents, but they truly are making an enormous impact,” Gartenberg said.
The year 2016 brought the largest U.S. investment in Israel Bonds in history, more than $1.1 billion, according to Israel Bonds.
Klahr said Israel Bonds remains a popular investment because while many Jews see bonds as a way to aid in the development of the Jewish state, they’re also a secure and stable investment. In 2016, Fitch Ratings upgraded Israeli government bonds from A to A+. And, Klahr said, people remain cautious about the threats Israel faces, believing that there could come a time when the government will need to lean on support from American Jews.
The women on the trip, some of whom had not been to Israel before, had diverse Jewish backgrounds, Gartenberg said. That fostered discussions about identity and the importance of their shared Jewishness.
“Beyond it being amazing to see the country and these different women, it was so interesting being with woman who come from such different backgrounds,” said Gartenberg, whose own background spans the European diaspora from Spain to Romania. “It sparked so much discussion among the delegation about what our background means to us and what our Jewish identity means.”