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Debbie Kornberg named president of Jewish National Fund-USA’s San Diego board

Alon Ben-Gurion and Debbie Kornberg
Alon Ben-Gurion and Debbie Kornberg
(Courtesy)

Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) leadership recently welcomed Debbie Kornberg as the new president of its San Diego board. Kornberg, a Carmel Valley resident, is the owner of Spice + Leaf, a company specializing in curated spice blends that bring Mediterranean flavor and flare to home cooking. San Diegans may also recognize her from her live “Spice It Up with Deb” cooking classes or her monthly cooking segment on Friday mornings on Fox 5 San Diego.

Debbie Kornberg
Growing up, Debbie Kornberg (far left) had JNF posters in her bedroom.
(Courtesy)

Kornberg brings with her an impressive career dedicated to Zionism and Jewish education. She met her husband, Rabbi David Kornberg of Congregation Beth Am, at UC San Diego where they were both Judaic Studies majors; she then went on to earn a masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition to other roles, she spent time as the director of Israel and Overseas at Jewish Federation, and for 12 years she was the Judaic Director at San Diego Jewish Academy, where her children, now in college, attended school.

Kornberg has known about JNF-USA since her Hebrew school days at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, where she would always look forward to the posters that announced the annual Tu BiShvat campaign -- even going so far as to hang one in her bedroom. Decades later, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that JNF-USA is now so much more than trees and the Blue Box “pushke” when she and her husband were asked to co-chair a JNF-USA mission to Israel in 2018. It was on that trip to Israel that she discovered just how much the organization does - including building communities, developing agriculture and water solutions, preserving heritage sites, and improving services for people with disabilities.

“JNF-USA has been incredibly successful in showcasing how we, as Americans, can have so much impact on the people of Israel,” she says. She has spent plenty of time in Israel - studying abroad, living there for several years, and visiting. But since the COVID-19 crisis has put travel plans on hold, she is excited about the “virtual trips” that JNF-USA has been offering (jnf.org/virtualtours); four local synagogues have already run multiple trips, and November tours included one geared toward arts and entertainment, as well as one that focused on how women have impacted Israel’s history from biblical through modern times.

Her love for Israel even works its way into her cuisine, which Kornberg describes as Mediterranean/Moroccan/Israeli. Kornberg has been offering Zoom cooking classes since 2018 in addition to (pre-COVID) live cooking demonstrations, where she teaches quick and easy methods to preparing complete meals, using spices as the secret weapon. “I originally became involved in this business because I fell in love with a boutique spice store in the Golan, and I still work with their farm located in the Galilee to get ingredients for the spice blends,” she says.

“My favorite aspect of doing these classes in the Jewish community is being able to weave concepts about Judaism and Israel together with my cooking,” she says. “Being involved in Jewish National Fund is a great way to build community on a local level, as well as on a national level - it really feels like a family of people that you instantly feel connected with because you share the same values and passion for Israel.”

For more information about JNF-USA or to become involved, contact JNF-USA Director, San Diego, Monica Edelman at 858-824-9178, x988 or medelman@jnf.org.


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