Looking Past the Flames: Address to JFN 2019

The word focus comes from the Latin for “fire”. The “focus” was the fireplace in a Roman home. 1

Fire draws our attention. It’s impossible to ignore.

Remember the story of the bush that burned but was not consumed? Well, there’s a midrash that says the burning bush had been in that desert since the Creation of the World, but nobody noticed it until Moses. When you look at a fireplace, your eyes go to the flames. You have to look deliberately, long and hard, to see the logs burning. So it’s not that nobody ever saw that burning bush, but that nobody ever looked past the flames.

In the Jewish world today, our attention is focused on the many fires we have to put out: from antisemitism to assimilation; from the breakdown of Israel-Diaspora relations to polarization in the Jewish community.

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Statement on the Terrorist Attack in Christchurch, New Zealand

Jewish Funders Network condemns the horrifying and evil terrorist attack that murdered 49 Muslims at prayer, and injured dozens more, in Christchurch, New Zealand. As a Jewish philanthropic community we are heartbroken by this loss of life, which reminds us painfully of the terrorist attack in Pittsburgh that murdered Jews at prayer in the name of the same hateful ideology that motivated this new massacre.

We send our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and our wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to all those injured. To the Muslim community all over the world we extend our sympathy, our solidarity, and our commitment to working together with you and others to create a world free of hate and bigotry, where all of our communities can thrive in liberty, security, creativity, and peace.

Update: The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has set up a relief fund to support the Muslim community of New Zealand as they deal with this horrific hate crime. Donate here >>

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The Philanthropy Framework (by RPA)

Across the world, philanthropy is undergoing a rapid transformation that offers both exciting opportunities and complex challenges. As a more unified global culture around giving and social investment emerges, new players, vehicles, strategies and approaches are creating commitment, enthusiasm and optimism. Yet shifting attitudes toward philanthropy, intense debates about power and effectiveness and difficult operating environments require philanthropists and social investors to demonstrate their value to a wide range of stakeholders. And, as many philanthropies broaden their activities from grantmaking to impact investing, knowledge-building, advocacy and coalition-building, they face the need to change how their organizations assess and allocate non-financial resources. With so much in flux, emerging donors and established funders are seeking new models not only for funding strategies and impact measures, but also for organizational design and management systems that will serve them well into the 21st century. Leaders are asking how philanthropies achieve impact as institutions, not just as sources of funding. In response to this surge of interest, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors developed the Philanthropy Framework, a tool to give an emerging or established philanthropy (whether in the form of a foundation, trust, funder collaborative, LLC, donor-advised fund or direct giving) a structure to align resources for maximum impact.

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JFN 2019 First-Time Attendees Webinar (Recorded)

JFN 2019

This webinar will empower first-time conference attendees to get as much out of the conference as you can. We discuss everything you need to know to have an enjoyable and productive experience—from the flow of a typical conference day to strategies for networking and side meetings to information about site tours and hosted dinners.

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Video: Holocaust Ignorance: Problems & Solutions

A webinar on the state of Holocaust knowledge and education in North America, with experts from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (Claims Conference), Yad Vashem, and the Azrieli Foundation.

On this past Yom HaShoah, the Claims Conference released the findings of a Holocaust Awareness and Knowledge Survey, conducted in the United States. The study revealed alarming gaps in knowledge; while most Americans have some level of awareness of the Holocaust, 41% of those surveyed, and two thirds of Millennials, did not know about Auschwitz, and one third of all those surveyed thought fewer than 2 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

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The Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund (LA) Opens 2019 Grant Cycle

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The Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund announces the opening of its 2019 grant cycle on February 1. (Submission deadline: March 1.) The Fund seeks to support the Jewish community in North America and Israel by searching out and supporting those unique ideas that are backed by passion and by leadership with a plan to strengthen and positively impact our Jewish community.

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Pictures: Georgette Bennett among inaugural Global Impact Awards recipients

Dr. Georgette Bennett, JFN's board chair, was among the inaugural recipients of the Global Impact Awards. The awards were presented on January 16th at a gala event in Tel Aviv, in the presence of the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, to humanitarians who have excelled in making a positive impact in the developing world.

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Did Judaism Wreck the Planet? (Tu Bishvat 5779)

Antisemites think Jews cause everything bad. We’re to blame for capitalism and communism, ethnocentric nationalism and rootless globalism, and more. But I’m disappointed at their lack of creativity, because there’s one thing they haven’t yet accused us of: causing climate change and environmental catastrophe.

And the fact is, they’d have a kernel of a point if they did.

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Mapping LGBTQ Organizations in Israel

By JDC Israel and The Agudah: The Israeli National LGBT Task Force

This first-of-its-kind mapping report was created to give funders the opportunity to structure collaborations that support the LGBTQ field in Israel.

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2018 Year in Review

Dear friends,

Einstein famously — and disconcertingly — said that time is an illusion. But whether or not time may be illusory in terms of theoretical physics, this past Gregorian year of 2018 has been an eventful chunk of time. This just-completed year — for good and for ill — seemed to contain far more than a year's happenings, and yet to pass by in a blink.

For JFN and for our network the year was far from illusory; it was a chance for JFN and our members to make real accomplishments. Some activities were dictated by our own strategic directions, some programs by the evolving needs of our growing membership (1,840+ members at present, from a dozen countries), and some by the rocky realities of the world. Here are some highlights of our year:

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