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Introducing Our Grantmaking Professionals Exchange

I am excited to announce the launch of the Grantmaking Professionals Exchange.

Building upon JFN's existing programming for grantmaking professionals, including our monthly online convenings and the annual retreat at our International Conference, the Exchange aims to strengthen relationships and enhance strategic, technical, and Jewish learning among professionals across the field of Jewish community philanthropy. The Exchange will be managed in partnership with our colleagues at Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies.

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Highlights from the Israel Ideas Festival

More than 350 people joined us this week for our two-day hybrid Israel Ideas Festival

While Covid restrictions prevented us from holding the global in-person gathering in Tel Aviv that we had initially envisioned, the Festival nonetheless provided us with a much-needed opportunity to connect (for those of us fortunate enough to be in Tel Aviv and New York, that included in-person shmoozing!) and to address some of the big issues facing Israel and the Jewish people.

(Above: The scene in Tel Aviv)

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Israel Ideas Festival Featured

From eJewish Philanthropy (October 26, 2021)

JFN's Israel Ideas Festival was featured at the top of the daily eJewish Philanthropy newsletter.

The Jewish Funders Network’s (JFN) two-day “Israel Ideas Festival” began yesterday online and in-person in both Tel Aviv and New York. It will attract a combined audience of about 350 people, a majority of whom are participating online.

Yesterday’s programming was focused on Israel’s relationship with the Arab world and with international Jewry, with a focus on the implications of the Abraham Accords. Israeli comedian Guri Alfi, whose four-part television program “The New Jew” explored American-Jewish life, spoke in Tel Aviv on the subject of Jewish peoplehood.

Today’s program offers sessions on specific issues, such as at-risk women, the elderly and workforce development. A discussion about impact investing features Diane Isenberg, founder of Ceniarth, who is known for tackling the question of whether such investors must accept possible sacrifices to financial returns in pursuit of social good.

The festival was intended to be an in-person, international event in Tel Aviv that would celebrate the end of the COVID era. Israel’s seven-day quarantine requirement compelled JFN to rework its plans.


JFN members can watch videos of most Israel Ideas Festival programs on our Members-Only Videos page.


The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life in 2021

From The Algemeiner (October 13, 2021)

The Algemeiner's list of the top 100 people includes JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny, along with several JFN members: Felicia Herman of the Maimonides Fund, Terry Kassel of the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Stacy Schusterman of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and Ariel Zwang of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Read the full article in The Algemeiner.


Why This Israeli Foundation Professional Is Pushing Colleagues to Go Green

From eJewish Philanthropy (October 12, 2021)

This article is about efforts by Tali Yariv-Mashal, an active member of JFN's Green Funders Forum, to encourage Jewish and Israeli philanthropists to address climate concerns. Tali, Director of the Beracha Foundation and Chair of the Israel Forum of Foundations, helped draft an international pledge that aims to persuade foundations to integrate environmental awareness and action into their work. The “International Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change,” was created under the auspices of WINGS, an international membership organization that supports foundations and facilitates collaboration between them.

Read the article by Helen Chernikoff on eJewish Philanthropy.


Eytan Stibbe: Israeli Astronaut and Philanthropist

Episode 24 of What Gives? the Jewish philanthropy podcast from Jewish Funders Network.

JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny talks to renowned Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe about his philanthropy, impact investing, and how his friend Ilan Ramon inspired him to travel to outer space.


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Which Local Jewish Institutions Shared the $1.3M Zuckerberg-Chan Gift?

From J: The Jewish News of Northern California (October 6, 2021)

This article about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's first Jewish gifts -- and efforts to woo Jewish Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to support Jewish organizations -- quotes JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny.

With a few notable exceptions, Jewish Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg have not emerged as major philanthropists in the local Jewish community. Andres Spokoiny, president of the Jewish Funders Network, said this was partly because many are not connected to their Jewish identity.

“To think that somebody who has been estranged from the Jewish community all their life is suddenly going to respond to an appeal because their name finishes in ‘berg’ is a mistake,” Spokoiny said.

Read the article by Dan Pine in J: The Jewish News of Northern California.


Embracing the Transition (Sukkot 5782)

The novelist Milan Kundera noted that the difference between a path and a highway is that a path is “a strip of ground over which one walks,” whereas a highway “is merely a line that connects one point with another.” A highway, he wrote, has no meaning in itself; its meaning derives entirely from the two points that it connects and “is the triumphant devaluation of space, which thanks to it has been reduced to a mere obstacle to human movement and a waste of time.”

Kundera wondered whether, in all but disappearing from the modern landscape, paths have also disappeared from the human soul. He lamented that people do not view their lives as a path, but as a highway, “a line that led from one point to another, from one role to the next … Time became a mere obstacle to life, an obstacle that had to be overcome by ever greater speed.”

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Connecting Jewish Youth to Their Faith through Giving

From Insights, the newsletter of Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (September 14, 2021)

In this essay, Wayne Green of JFN's Honeycomb, writes about the importance of Jewish youth philanthropy programs in shaping the next generation of committed Jews and Jewish funders.

What does our giving say about us? This is a good question for teens to ask themselves as they begin their journey of learning to do philanthropy well.

As adults and educators working with teens, there are important questions to ask ourselves as well. How do we represent our experiences and learnings from childhood with the teens with whom we work? What are the core principles of religion, ‘ah-ha’ moments from our experiences, stories shared from grandparents and ancestors long gone, and the family and faith traditions that inspire us to act to make change for good today? How can we inspire youth to draw on these questions during their philanthropic journey?

Read the full piece here.


Is Zionism Part of Judaism?

From Tablet Magazine (September 12, 2021)

In this essay, JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny weighs in on the "sometimes acrid debate about 'the boundaries of community' that expresses itself mostly around the issue of Zionism and whether being an anti-Zionist puts one 'beyond the pale.'”

While acknowledging that "some of the vitriol against anti-Zionists is excessive and even dangerous," Spokoiny writes that the "non-exclusionary position ignores something central: Judaism, like any other culture, has normative positions that set the limits of belonging. But throughout Jewish history, new ideological positions became normative, and others were weeded out or excluded. The fact that an ideology was rooted in Jewish sources didn’t guarantee automatic acceptance."

Read the full piece in Tablet.