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Knowing the State of Israel, Through and Through

December 1, 2005 By:
Jan L. Apple, JE Feature
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Debbie and Robert Dunn

Israel is a natural and integral part of Robert, known as "Dunny," and Debbie Dunn's lives, personally and professionally.

Recently, the couple, who has been affiliated with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for more than two decades, expressed that commitment by increasing their family gift to the Major Gifts level, and directed it to Federation's Center for Israel and Overseas.

"We are confident that our donation will be channeled to programs that make a difference," said Robert Dunn.

"Originally, our reason for pledging the gift was clearly in response to the lack of tourism and the intifada," he continued. "Thankfully, these factors have improved, but even so, our decision would be the same."

One of the highest priorities for the couple is education for Israeli children.

In early December, Robert Dunn will travel to Israel for the 20th time, attending to business on behalf of the family-owned firm, H & F Manufacturing Corporation, established by his late father-in-law Joseph Huscher. He will also participate in an Israel Bonds Task Force. A vacation trip this spring will mark Debbie Dunn's 10th trip to the Jewish homeland.

"We, as Jews, owe it to the Israelis to go there and see what a beautiful country they have built," said Debbie Dunn, a past president of the Philadelphia Region of Women's American ORT who first traveled there at 15 with her parents and sister. "I feel so proud each time that I visit."

"I attribute all of my involvement with Israel to the influence of my in-laws, Ann and Joseph Huscher," explained Robert Dunn, who said he works to perpetuate his father-in-law's legacy through the family business that benefits Israel and through leading by example in the community. The Dunns were also co-investors of a hotel expansion on Kfar Blum, a kibbutz in northern Israel.

In addition, Robert Dunn started an Israel Bonds board in Bucks County more than eight years ago. He was the first chairman and and continues to serve on the board. The board's annual event, where someone in the community is honored, generates about $1 million in bond sales.

The Dunns have two children; Jason, 29, and Lauren, 26, and are the grandparents of 1-year-old Chelsea.

Debbie Dunn credits her parents, both immigrants from Austria, "for instilling powerful messages - not only as ardent supporters of Israel but also as caring human beings, helping those less fortunate than themselves."

Carrying on those values - l'dor v'dor - the couple traveled to Israel twice with their children.

The couple said one of the most powerful experiences for them in Israel was a seder with friends in Jerusalem, that brought to fruition the words of the Haggadah: "Next year in Jersalem."

Besides Federation, the Dunns are deeply committed to the Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, and have been members of Shir Ami-Bucks County Jewish Congregation in Newtown for 21 years.

Recently, daughter Lauren, a social worker, asked her parents if they would anonymously send a winter coat she had purchased - since she could not - for someone she met at work who was a recovering alcoholic and had no heat in his apartment.

"You don't know what your children learn from you as they are growing up," reflected Debbie Dunn. "I guess they see what you do, and it comes back full circle."

 

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