Letter from the Ruins of Moshav Mevo Modi'im

Last month, fire completely destroyed the village of Moshav Mevo Modi'im. JFN member Brachie Sprung (Director of the International Office of Jerusalem Partnerships, an initiative spearheaded by the Jerusalem Mayor’s office and the Leichtag Foundation) is a former resident of the village, and after the fire she immediately flew to Israel to participate in relief efforts. Below is a letter she recently shared with her networks, as well as pictures she included.

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Israeli Politics Briefing: The Future of the Rule of Law

When JFN originally scheduled this webinar with Yohanan Plesner, president of the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), it was to discuss news reports about a proposal to effectively remove the Israeli Supreme Court's power to hold the Knesset and ministries accountable to Israeli Basic Law, virtually eliminating the important democratic principle of checks and balances from Israel’s political system. But mere hours before the webinar convened, PM Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition, the Knesset dissolved, and new elections were scheduled for September.

In this video, Plesner provides a comprehensive overview of the Israeli political scene — how we got to this unprecedented situation, what to watch over the coming months, what could change, what probably won't change, and what it all means for the future of the original topic of this webinar: safeguarding the principles of checks and balances, democratic accountability, and the rule of law in Israel.

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How Not to Become a Beer (Shavuot 5779)

A lost tribe, a brand of beer, the history and future of Jewish resilience, and how Shavuot explains it all.

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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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