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Like Trees in the Forest (Tu Bishvat 5782)

One of the quotes that is repeated the most around the holiday of Tu Bishvat (the “New Year of the Trees) is, “Because Man is like a tree in the forest” (Deuteronomy 20:19). Rabbis in every generation have tried to explain that meaning-rich comparison, and many see that quote at the root (so to speak) of Judaism’s approach to stewardship of the Earth.

But can a tree be compared not to an individual person, but an entire people?

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CANVAS Invests More Than $1.6 Million in Arts Networks

CANVAS, a Jewish Funders Network-incubated collaborative fund dedicated to elevating the ecosystem of Jewish arts and culture, has awarded $195,000 to nine emerging arts networks. Grant amounts ranged from $10,000 to $25,000. This latest grant cycle is on top of an initial investment in large networks of $736,000.

Along with other investments in media coverage of the field, this brings CANVAS’s total commitments to the sector to over $1.6 million over the past 18 months.

(Image in banner courtesy of Siona Benjamin, Jewish Art Salon)

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Rediscover the Magic of In-Person

Registration is now open for JFN's first fully in-person international conference since 2019. The conference, at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., from March 27-29, is focusing on the theme of "Reconnecting & Resilience." Visit the conference website.

Speakers include Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum, former Ambassador Dennis Ross, author Casper ter Kulle, and Jewish studies professor Ilana Horwitz, and Covid protocols will be in place to ensure participants' safety.

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Colorado Fires: How to Help Those Affected

The fires in the Boulder County, Colo. area on December 30 were swift and merciless:100-mph winds drove the flames’ rapid spread over drought-parched grasses and land. With little warning and many people at their workplaces, thousands had to flee their homes, leaving behind everything including valuables, family keepsakes, clean socks, and in many heartbreaking cases, pets. The fires have now subsided under a blanket of heavy snow and very low temperatures. The devastation for an estimated 1,000 households is immense. The current Omicron variant infection wave makes finding temporary housing with friends or family even harder.

JEWISHcolorado (the local Jewish Federation) has set up a dedicated emergency fund. Funds collected will be disbursed to local agencies such as Jewish Family Service, the Boulder JCC, and multiple congregations. These agencies will also disseminate funds to their clients and members and use funds to provide extra services. They have already ordered thousands of dollars of gift cards to hand out to people in need.

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An End-of-Year Message from JFN's Board Chair

Last week, on December 21, we experienced the shortest day of the year. Now, slowly and subtly, light is beginning to filter back into our lives. It is my fervent hope that by the time we gather in Palm Beach from March 27-29, the days will be longer and brighter. 

This great plague has been the universal experience of mankind during these last 21 months. Too many died and suffered, too many experienced pain and hunger, and all of us experienced isolation and uncertainty. Although today a new variant of infection is again ravaging the country, all indications are that our greater knowledge and increasing levels of vaccination are helping us to cope better than when we first encountered this deadly disease. Will we at last see the light at the end of this tunnel?

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Fay Twersky: Philanthropy That Listens and Responds

Episode 26 of What Gives? the Jewish philanthropy podcast from Jewish Funders Network.

In episode 26 of Jewish Funders Network's "What Gives?" philanthropy podcast, Fay Twersky, the President and Director of the Atlanta-based Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (and former vice president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) talks with JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny about everything from the critical role philanthropy played in the LGBTQ rights movement to participatory grantmaking, to strengthening grantmaker-grantseeker relationships.

 

 

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How a Foundation Mobilized to Keep Jewish Summer Camps Afloat During COVID

From Inside Philanthropy (December 6, 2021)

In "How a Foundation Mobilized to Keep Jewish Summer Camps Afloat During Covid," Inside Philanthropy chronicles a philanthropic success story for which the credit goes largely to JFN members. That includes the Foundation for Jewish Camp (a public foundation) and its numerous supporters, including Elisa and Robert Bildner and the many foundations that came together to establish the Jewish Communal Response and Impact Fund, such as Aviv Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation; the Maimonides Fund; the Paul E. Singer Foundation and the Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation. The article notes the important role that networks like FJC play, saying: "In times of trouble, they can be the unsung infrastructural heroes of the philanthrosphere." 

This article also highlights Jim Joseph Foundation's $12 million grant of general operating support to FJC (in addition to being part of JCRIF, which played a critical role in providing both grants and loans). "There’s a lot of debate about that in the field, but we at the Jim Joseph Foundation are big believers in general operating funds," Jim Joseph's Barry Finestone says in the article. "The general operating funds allow them to shift dollars around [and use them as needed].”

Don't have an Inside Philanthropy subscription yet? JFN members get a 25 percent discount. JFN members also get a 20 percent discount on subscriptions to the other leading philanthropy publication, The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Learn how to access these and other member discounts here.

Read the full article by Simone Ellin in Inside Philanthropy.

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Z3 Project Presents: Andrés Spokoiny

From Jewish Telegraphic Agency (December 1, 2021)

This Z3 2021 Futures Workshop-sponsored article is a Q&A with JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny. Responding to a question on where funders’ priorities should lie both in the diaspora and in Israel he says:

You won’t have a single answer to that. One of the hallmarks of the philanthropic community today is it’s very atomized. It’s very fragmented. We joke at JFN that we have 2,500 members and 2,500 interests. So I tell you what I think, in my view, should be the focus of the philanthropic community. There should be an emphasis on Jewish content and meaning. The pandemic is going to shine a light on questions of meaning. And this is something that we don’t do in the Jewish community. We invest more in frameworks of identity and not necessarily in content.

Antisemitism is going to be a big priority for funders. That does not mean money will be well spent or that we’re going to be effective in fighting antisemitism. But I think it’s going to be a focus of many funders. What I do hope is the funders understand that fighting antisemitism is much more complicated than they think in the age of social media. The funders will need to really reflect on what works and what doesn’t.

And two more things are going to be important. One is Jewish poverty. In the pandemic, we realize that a lot of Jews are extremely vulnerable. We tend to believe that it was all taken care of, and it is not. And last but not least, I think that there’s going to be a focus on specific social issues in Israel. We’re going to really abandon the notion of giving money “to Israel.” What we’re going to be seeing are partnerships with Israeli funders and with the Israeli government to address specific issues in Israel.

Read the full article on JTA.

The Z3 Futures Workshop is a hybrid event on December 5, with components online and in Palo Alto, Calif. Andres Spokoiny will be one of the speakers there.

 

 

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Meet JFN's New Vice President of Programs

JFN is delighted to welcome Mara Silvers, our new Vice President of Programs, who will help us shape and improve our programming and conferences.

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JFN's Impact Investing Instructor Explains Why Investments Need to Align with Philanthropy

Michael Lustig, the author of JFN's "Guide to Jewish Impact Investing" and the co-instructor of our upcoming Certificate Course in Jewish Impact Investing has published an op-ed in eJewish Philanthropy.

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