Celebrating His ‘Bar Mitzvah Year of Volunteerism’ by Investing in Israel with Jason Langsner

Jason Langsner. Photo Courtesy.

This year, Potomac resident and Washington Hebrew Congregation member Jason Langsner is marking the occasion of his self-described “bar mitzvah year of volunteerism” in Jewish spaces and with Israel Bonds. Langsner works as a technology and media professional and his local ties run deep through his work as the vice chair of Israel Bonds Washington. He also has an impressive list of accomplishments, having met with each of the last 12 Israeli finance ministers and presented an award to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on behalf of all young investors of Israel.

You’ve volunteered with Israel Bonds for the last 12 years and have met every Israeli finance minister in that span; can you tell me about those experiences?

I’m going on my Israel Bonds Bar Mitzvah. 13 years ago, I started to volunteer locally in the Washington, D.C., region. I previously was an investor and had a friend at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington who introduced me to the organization … So, fast forward to 2024, I’ve been involved for 13 years. I started off just as a regular volunteer and investor and was asked to become the chair of Israel Bonds Washington New Leadership. Israel Bonds helps to raise revenue for the state of Israel. And the revenue that’s raised goes to the general fund of Israel, which is managed by the finance minister. So, when Israel Bonds goes on delegations to Israel, or when we have conferences in the United States, it’s very often that members of the Knesset or finance ministers, or others from the Accounting General’s office will come to speak to individuals in the Jewish Diaspora to learn about why they’re supporting Israel, why they’re investing, then also to provide us some intelligence and information about the economy … I found it [Israel Bonds] to be the most tangible way that I can support the state of Israel outside of making aliyah. I can make an economic aliyah every time that I buy Israel Bonds – I know it’s going to support the development of the country. I trust that it’s being used for the best means, whether it’s for long term projects like the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem train line or building roads and schools and bridges. Those are things that I want to support there, and I’m happy that my money goes to support those projects.

What is your involvement in the Greater Washington D.C. Jewish community?

I moved to Washington, D.C., originally in 2003 as an intern and just fell in love with the city … I didn’t have a single person I knew outside of the people I worked with and my first entry into socializing and the Jewish community was going to the DC JCC … I think the launching point for me was when I went on Birthright in 2006. I very much like to think of myself as a Birthright success story … I knew that I was Jewish, but I didn’t really understand what it meant to be Jewish until I went on Birthright. I came back looking to continue that Jewish learning that I experienced in Israel and got much more involved in the Jewish community at that point, spending significant time volunteering at Federation … Then, over time, I started to gravitate more towards the Jewish National Fund and Israel Bonds and really found a home with Israel Bonds with my overall volunteerism. One other thing that started to be important to me was, as I was maturing in my 20s, I was starting to think about what I wanted to have as a Jewish family, and it was important for me to find a Jewish spouse and to raise children in a Jewish way. And that led us to get really involved with Washington Hebrew Congregation. And then similarly, I joined what is an Israeli investment circle called Fistful of Shekels, where members of Washington Hebrew invest in Israeli companies together, we pool our funds. And we buy stocks in Israeli-owned companies that are on the U.S. trade market.

Can you tell me about some of your fundraising efforts with local schools?

One of the ways you can do Israel Bonds is something called a double mitzvah. With that you purchase an Israel Bond, and you donate it to a nonprofit or you gift it to a school. So, about five years ago, I started to move all my charitable giving, all of my annual tzedakah, in the form of Israel Bonds. So, whether I’m gifting an Israel Bond to Georgetown University, where I got my graduate degree, or to Washington Hebrew, the Israel Bond is in the name of Georgetown University or Washington Hebrew, and then Georgetown has to hold that bond for as long as the bond is. The bonds I generally purchase are for one year. So, in one year, Georgetown University gets the amount that I invested plus the interest paid back to them. And for me, it creates a positive relationship between Georgetown and myself as an alumnus. It creates a positive relationship between Georgetown and the state of Israel because they’re getting funds made out in a check in the mail from the state of Israel to Georgetown University … I want to build a positive relationship and combat some of the negativity with the BDS movements for boycott, divestment, and sanctions that might be happening on campuses by talking about buying and donating bonds to schools.

How does your Jewish identity impact you on a day-to-day basis?

My Jewish identity is my primary identifier. So, I think of myself as a Jewish American, Jewish first. It’s how I choose to live my life. I try to choose to live a life that’s based on Jewish ideals, as a family that’s trying to infuse Judaism into our household and to our children … Our household is kosher style, we celebrate Shabbat every single Friday. One of the special things that happened in COVID [was that] it created an opportunity for her [my wife’s] sisters and their families and her parents and us to get together for Shabbat over Zoom. So, at the beginning of COVID, every single week we started to get together as a family, three generations, and family from Boston, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Cleveland to celebrate Shabbat together. I found that to be a beautiful tradition.

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