JUNE 2021

Dear Friend,

Allow me to introduce myself: I am JFN's new Executive Vice President and will be helping to lead the National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty.

I'm excited to get to know all of you and to learn more about the work you are doing to address and end Jewish poverty. Over the course of my career, I have focused on using Jewish wisdom to help heal the world. I have worked with many groups in this capacity: the ill, caregivers, rabbis, and more. I look forward to bringing my skill to working with this group to alleviate poverty. Before joining JFN, I was Director of the Engagement Division at Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization. My professional background also includes directing Clal’s Rabbis Without Borders, co-founding the Gender Equity in Hiring Project, and consulting for synagogues, organizations, and individuals on leadership development, building creative capacity, actualizing ideas, and how to work across religious and cultural borders.

Thank you for playing a critical role in elevating issues of poverty on our community’s agenda. We want to know more about how we can help you, so please take the time to fill out our survey (details below). In addition to sharing information about the survey, this issue of our newsletter highlights an important new effort to better serve Jewish survivors of domestic violence and provides information on upcoming and past (now on video) programs. Please stay in touch and don't forget to share your questions and “bright spots.”


Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu
Executive Vice President
Jewish Funders Network
[email protected]

—Upcoming Events—

Thursday, July 15, 12-1 pm ET (9-10 am PT)

Lessons from the Frontlines: A Conversation with Avodah Service Corps Fellows

Hear from three Avodah Corps members who have spent the past 10 months working on the frontlines of the fight against poverty in the Jewish community in New York City. 2020-2021 Corps Members Allie Fischgrund (Project Ore), Emma Holyst (Met Council on Jewish Poverty), and Abby Israel (Footsteps) will share stories and perspectives from their work on the ground, surprises or ways that their thinking has changed, and lessons for how to advance the work of breaking cycles of poverty, particularly in the Jewish community. Jennifer Turner, the New York Program Director of the Avodah Jewish Services Corps, will also join to connect this work to Avodah’s broader fight against poverty.

Susan Wolf Ditkoff, Senior Adviser at The Bridgespan Group, will moderate the conversation.



—Our Work—

Help Us Gather Information

The Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty is engaging in research to learn what resources and supports would be most helpful to you as you engage in the important work of addressing Jewish poverty. Please help us by completing this 12-15 minute survey! Your response to this survey will be confidential and will only be seen by our core team. As part of our research, we will also be conducting brief interviews. If you would like to be interviewed, please let us know. Thank you for your help!

>>Fill out the survey

—Bright Spot—

Mobilizing Support for Jewish Survivors of Domestic Violence

Like Jewish poverty, domestic violence in the Jewish community is a phenomenon that defies stereotypes and whose existence many people deny. Yet, like poverty, it has only increased in the past year as a result of the Covid pandemic. And the two are linked: in seeking to escape domestic abuse, victims frequently confront, or are stymied by, major economic challenges.

With funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Jewish Women International recently published an extensive needs assessment and series of recommendations that address these challenges head-on. In addition to recommending greater national coordination among the disparate local Jewish agencies serving domestic violence survivors, the JWI report identifies the need for access to legal support, safe and affordable housing, and the means to build economic security. Among the recommendations:

  • Developing trauma-informed and victim-centered strengths and asset-focused skills training programs for both traditional and flexible work environments and tools to increase financial literacy skills for survivors and their children.
  • Encouraging financial institutions to provide domestic violence survivors with low-interest loans, cash assistance, and other services that expand long-term economic security, while also connecting and mentoring survivors as they work to enhance their economic security.
  • Create a funding mechanism that recognizes the impact of abuse on survivors’ finances, most notably how abuse destroys credit and thereby inhibits access to traditional sources of loans and credit; explore partnerships to provide transitional housing and low-cost moving services.
  • Providing Jewish domestic violence programs with adequate funding to hire trauma-informed family law attorneys; creating and maintaining a clearinghouse on typical issues facing domestic violence survivors; offering training, mentoring, and peer support for attorneys serving Jewish domestic violence survivors.

The report also recommends other services and investments, including greater support for children who have witnessed domestic violence and building “survivor-centered responses” to domestic violence that counter existing tendencies to privilege powerful abusers or stigmatize survivors.

JWI CEO Meredith Jacobs said her organization will push for implementation of these recommendations by “forming a national center that will work in partnership to meet the systemic needs of survivors and to support the local Jewish programs and advocates that serve them.”

Download the executive summary and full report at https://www.jwi.org/jewish-domestic-violence

To learn how your organization can partner with JWI to better serve Jewish survivors of domestic violence, email Deborah Rosenbloom at [email protected]


Affinity Group Videos

We've recently added videos from a special briefing on the new Pew report's poverty-related findings, as well as a webinar on how convening different people and stakeholders can create real change. You can watch these and the growing library of all Affinity Group videos, on this playlist on JFN's YouTube channel. For a more focused experience, check out the following Affinity Group playlists:

The Affinity Group Website

Your one-stop shop for all Affinity Group videos, briefing papers, newsletters, and other materials.

GrantED: Stronger Relationships. Greater Impact.

Nonprofits addressing Jewish poverty — and the funders who support them — can benefit from the many resources offered by GrantED, a joint project of Jewish Funders Network and UpStart. GrantED (jgranted.org) creates and curates articles, tools, and other materials to inspire and inform grantmakers and grantseekers, organizing around four core interdependent components of successful partnerships: strengthening relationships, understanding and addressing power dynamics, sustaining impact, and effective communication.

GrantED's resources and case studies are selected with an eye toward sharing best practices, showcasing success stories, and equipping funders and nonprofits with the tools to improve. GrantED also encourages interaction and knowledge-sharing by offering workshops, facilitated conversations, and other programs. Learn more at www.jgranted.org.

—From the Field—

The Miracle of Jewish Pandemic Giving
(Mosaic Magazine
, June 28)

Poverty Is A Matter of Policy Choices, Not Moral Failings
(Bangor Daily News
, June 23)

Givers and the Government Stepped Up to Support Nonprofits
The Hill, June 20)

New Research Highlights a Shifting Priority at Food Banks: Tackling the Root Causes of Food Insecurity
(The Counter, June 8)

‘Food Hubs’ In Sacramento’s Low Income Neighborhoods Could Combat Hunger, Support Entrepreneurs
(CAP Radio, June 7)

USDA Sending $1 Billion in Funding to Country’s Food Bank Networks
(The Associated Press, June 4)

Be sure to check out the collection of articles we published last year in partnership with eJewish Philanthropy.

Founded in 2019 and coordinated by Jewish Funders Network and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty is a collaborative of funders, Jewish Federations, direct service providers, researchers, media outlets, and advocates dedicated to fighting poverty in the American Jewish community. Learn more here.