In Gratitude: Joseph (Jo) Nakam
​Paris, France
2014 Yakir Keren Hayesod Award recipient
 

​Joseph (Jo) Nakam has been one of the most active supporters of Keren Hayesod and Israel in France for many years, with discrete, but constant, generosity. 
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Joseph (Jo) Nakam, holding the Yakir Award, with Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz.
 

Things, however, were not always easy for Jo and his family. Born in Mascara, Algeria in 1955, he experienced the trauma of being uprooted at a very young age. Nonetheless, Jo, now the head of a successful shoe business, remembers his early childhood with equanimity. He arrived in France in 1962 with his father and mother, then expecting her third child, and younger brother. Jo has affectionate memories of his father and his "phenomenal commitment" to fight for the future of his family, whose material possessions at that time fit into a few suitcases. 
 
After starting medical school, Jo retrained to become a certified accountant. After his father’s death, however, he decided to take over the shoe store that his father had managed. The tremendous work that Jo invested in the business bore fruit. Today, the Jonak Company has outlets across France and in several other countries.
Jo’s Jewish and Zionist commitment dates back to the Six-Day War, in June 1967. Following years of activism in high school and university, he became one the leaders of the Liaison Committee of Zionist Socialist Students. During this time, he also experienced physical confrontations with violent anti-Zionist elements. 
It was at the “Movement for Aliyah from France “(MAF) that Jo met Karine, whom he married in 1982. The marriage produced four children. Karine fully supports his activism.
 
The Yom Kippur War (1973) and the Gulf War (1991) are additional milestones along Jo’s path. In 1991, he came to Israel to serve as a civilian volunteer, and returned during the 90s for the “Partnership 2000” project that links the Jewish community of France to Ma’alot.
The years of the Second Intifada (2000-2003), when Israel faced an unprecedented wave of terrorism, witnessed a series of solidarity missions to Israel initiated by Jo, a faithful friend of Keren Hayesod. At the same time, he took a trip to support Argentinean Jewry in crisis (2001-2) and devoted more and more time to Ethiopian Jewry, organizing three missions to that country. They were followed by an exhibition of photographs at the municipality building of Paris and the publication and sale of a book, all proceeds of which were dedicated to absorption of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel.
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From left to right: Greg Masel, KH-UIA Director General; Yohanna Arbib-Perugia, then Chair of KH-UIA World Board of Trustees; Joseph (Jo) Nakam; KH Honorary President Julia Koschitzky and Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, KH-UIA World Chairman.
 
This brief overview of Jo’s total commitment to Israel and the Jewish people within the framework of Keren Hayesod perfectly illustrates the absolute importance that he attributes to the unity of the Jewish people and his support for those in distress.

For his generosity, his commitment and his unwavering dedication to Israel, Joseph (Jo) Nakam is a worthy recipient of the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award, which was presented to him this past June by the leadership of our organization, in a moving ceremony at Mizpeh Ramon (in the Negev).