In Gratitude: Ruben Troostwijk
​Outgoing CIA-Keren Hayesod Holland Chairman (2008-2013)
15 years of leadership and dedication
 
"We have to redefine ourselves"

We meet outgoing CIA-Keren Hayesod Holland Chairman, Ruben Troostwijk, on a sunny autumn day in Herzliya, during one of his frequent business trips to Israel. In a friendly, half-hour chat, we try to sum up his five-year tenure, from 2008 to 2013, at the helm of CIA-Keren Hayesod Holland.


"It was a real honour", says Ruben, who served on the organization's board for ten years before becoming Chairman. "You don't get so many opportunities to work for causes that are so close to your heart, and when you do, you feel rewarded. Both sides benefit.  Another exciting aspect is that you get to know so many amazing people, who give to Israel with all their heart. I've also been lucky to work with outstanding KH emissaries (shlichim), who are a great "plus", even in strong campaigns".

As one of the youngest leaders in our worldwide KH family, Ruben brought a fresh outlook to the Campaign. "We’ve had wonderful Chairpersons, who did tremendous jobs.  I tried to pass the torch on.  I have always liked mixing groups of people – of different ages, styles, religious outlooks, men and women, etc. 

"Donor behavior is changing, and we’ve had some differences of opinion and discussions with KH Jerusalem about the best way to handle those changes”, adds Ruben with a slight smile, “but it was always in a positive atmosphere. We have to adapt ourselves to the new ways of thinking and behaviour in the philanthropic world".
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Ruben at the dedication of the Johan Cruyff football playground in Jaffa, October 2010

Over the years, CIA-KH Holland succeeded in building a very strong Legacies Department, enabling it to have a great impact in the KH world. "Some of the big legacies,  such as the Friedman legacy, for example ", says Ruben, "made it possible for us to go support a lot of projects and to learn about them in great detail”.
One of the highlights of Ruben's tenure was the deepening of cooperation between CIA-KH Holland and the Christians for Israel association [which received the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award in 2010 – YA].  This relationship, which began a long time ago, was greatly enhanced under Reuben’s leadership and today, the two organizations hold an annual joint dinner.  "Our Christian friends are an important voice for Israel and they show great generosity”, notes Reuben. “ Our alliance is applauded in the community and the Chief Rabbi himself is on excellent terms with our Christian friends".

As a young leader himself, Ruben is acutely aware of the generation issue. "A lot of our major donors were born in the ‘baby-boom’ years”, he explains, “and they have a very strong bond to Israel because of their and their parents' personal stories, which are often Holocaust -related. Things are different with the younger generations. They live well in the Netherlands. And although there is a lot of assimilation, we can still attract them to Israel even if they look at it more critically".

“In order to do that”, he continues, “we have to show them that giving to Israel is one of the only ways to maintain their Jewish identity. We have to draw them into projects, to ‘sell’ Israel in a broader sense". 
“Aliyah and klita”, adds Ruben, using the Hebrew words for immigration and absorption,  “are not a top issue any more. We have to redefine ourselves; otherwise we might miss the opportunity to be relevant in the eyes of those  in their 40s and 50s".

When asked about new directions he is thinking of, Ruben responds: "Keren Hayesod has a very strong position in the Netherlands.  CIA  was created  some 60 years ago as an umbrella organization, but today it is a unified body that is the leading  Jewish organization in our country.  We could, for instance, think about common projects with Israeli institutions, like Tel Aviv University, for example. That could be a win-win situation, with financial benefit for all".
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KH Director general Greg Masel awards to Ruben the "Golden Key"  - Amsterdam, October 13, 2013

Reuben considers the use of social networking particularly important.  "The new media is critical for success. This will bring  the young generations on board.  Even when they are busy building their careers and raising their families, young people  have still a  strong desire to be connected. We have to be attractive to them".
Although Ruben is bidding adieu to the CIA's board after 15 years of deep involvement and leadership, he will of course "stick around" and his Jewish and Zionist agenda will remain very busy. "I'm on the board of the Amsterdam Jewish community and also very involved with the Jewish home for the elderly", he notes. 

As for Israel, Ruben is a frequent flyer between Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. "I consider Israel my home”, he says, “and would like to do more in the Netherlands to promote its image  there, without fear of the hostile propaganda against us. I've just launched a new business in Israel, and that is something that will definitely keep me increasingly more involved” .

The worldwide Keren Hayesod family thanks Ruben for his leadership and dedication during the years of his presidency of  CIA-KH Holland and wishes him great success in all his future endeavours!