We All Own It: Reflections of a First Time Attendee at the JFN 2019 Conference

Shouldn’t we focus on engagement and education programs only after a significant portion of philanthropic dollars have been committed to supporting the most vulnerable in our communities? 

(Cross-posted at eJewish Philanthropy.)

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“No-Place” Like Home: The Utopia That Came True

The word utopia was first used by Sir Thomas More in 1516. He coined the term combining two Greek words: ou (not) and topos (place), and he thus named an imaginary island that would harbor the perfect society. Utopia was “No-Place”, or, “the place that doesn’t exist”.

It caught on. “Utopia” became a blanket term to describe a dream of something impossible, a society that can’t really be found in any real topos, a goal that can’t really be achieved, and became especially common in describing political programs of (supposedly) impossible concretion. The 19th century was a golden age of sorts for utopias. From utopian socialism to nationalist romanticism to technological utopias emerging from the industrial revolution, all sort of ambitious ideas and implausible political programs excited people’s imaginations.

Among that cacophony of dreams, we Jews also had a utopic idea of our own. It was called Zionism.

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Marcy Gringlas of Seed the Dream Foundation on Holocaust Survivor Needs at JFN 2019

At the Jewish Funders Network 2019 International Conference, Marcy Gringlas of Seed the Dream Foundation discussed the urgent task of meeting the needs of Holocaust survivors.

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What Prompts Us to Give? Balancing Head and Heart

Published in Sh'ma Now.

Ask most people what motivates philanthropy and they’ll probably say, “generosity.” But generosity isn’t simple. People give charity for many and overlapping reasons: tax advantages, social pressure (my friend asked me), ego (I want my name on a building), enlightened self-interest (I know a society that helps the powerless will be more prosperous and stable than a purely greedy society), admiration for particular leaders or institutions, outrage at injustice, empathy for people who are suffering, passion for culture, religious conviction, gratitude and a desire to give back, or countless other reasons.

Which motivations drive us — or rather, since competing motivations sometimes drive us in opposite directions, which motivations drive us most dominantly — can make a significant impact on how much we give, what causes we choose, what grantees foundations choose to support, how we structure or limit our grants, and every other aspect of our philanthropy. So, it’s worth asking ourselves: What thoughts and emotions are really prompting me to give?

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Another Synagogue Shooting: What Funders Can Do

By Andrés Spokoiny and Dr. Georgette Bennett

Another day of celebration transformed into a day of mourning. Another day of gratitude transformed into a day of outrage. Another day of peace transformed into a day of murder. Another day dedicated to praise the beautiful things of the world transformed into a day in which all its ugliness is shown. Another day on which we wonder how we can tell our children that people are good and that the world is safe. Another day on which the unthinkable becomes the unsurprising.

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What All Anti-Semites Have In Common

In The Jewish Week.

On April 16, Alain Soral, a well-known French anti-Semite, was sentenced to one year in prison by a French court for “negationisme”, Holocaust denial. For those of us familiar with Soral’s eclectic political life, seeing him condemned is satisfying, and also instructive. Alain Soral’s career demonstrates how modern society—and even many Jews—misunderstand anti-Semitism.

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The Messenger Who Can't Speak (Pesach 5779)

Do you think that leaders who are assertive, self-assured, speak clearly, and “call a spade a spade” are better leaders?

Think twice.

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Technology & the Jewish Future: Dr. Lucy Bernholz, Joshua Foer, & Rabbi David Wolpe

At the Jewish Funders Network 2019 International Conference in San Francisco, three distinguished Jewish thinkers discussed how technology is reshaping Jewish life.

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Deena Fuchs Joins Jewish Funders Network as Executive Vice President as JFN Seeks to Evolve

Deena Fuchs

Deena K. Fuchs will join Jewish Funders Network to inaugurate the new role of Executive Vice President. In partnership with JFN President & CEO Andrés Spokoiny, Deena will help JFN to grow and transform as the organization seeks to enhance its role as a catalyst for partnerships and coalitions in the Jewish philanthropic world.

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Yossi Klein Halevi & Rabbi Noa Kushner: Nationhood, Peoplehood, and Belonging In Contemporary Society

At the JFN 2019 International Conference in San Francisco, Yossi Klein Halevi, a leading Israeli writer and analyst, and co-director of Shalom Hartman Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative, discussed the need of the Jewish people to find in its national movement a “third way” between the impulses toward tribalism/ethnocentrism or a multicultural paradigm that demands people shed their particular identities. Rabbi Noa Kushner, Founder of The Kitchen, an independent religious community in San Franciso, spoke to the possibility of another identity and group-building rubric, one centered on Jewish experience, mission and commitment. How do Jews in Israel and the Diaspora alike navigate the perplexity and complexity of these issues as the Jewish people navigate painful differences and seek a common story, a common purpose, and a common identity?

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