The President's Desk: Andrés Spokoiny

Andrés Spokoiny is President & CEO of Jewish Funders Network. Full bio >>

On This Covid Yom Ha’atzmaut, Let’s Hit the Reset Button

Many things that worried us tremendously a few months ago seem to have lost their urgency in the age of COVID19. As Bari Weiss noted in a recent New York Times column, “many of the [culture war] battles of the past decade now seem self-indulgent and stagnant; others a waste of time...”

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What We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself (Passover 5780)

Pantaphobia is a very rare medical condition in which the patient feels absolutely no fear. Thanks to a middle-aged American woman known to science as SM-046, who in the mid-‘90s the media dubbed “the woman with no fear” and whose brain scans were examined by doctors, we know that this condition is caused by damage to the amygdala, the section of our brain that regulates primal emotions and instinctual reactions.

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Does the Jewish Community Need a Central COVID Fund? Here's A Better Strategy for Addressing the Crisis

In the current crisis, we are hearing calls in the Jewish media and in leadership conversations to launch an “emergency campaign” creating a “central fund” to “save” the Jewish community system from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

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Coronavirus Is a Test for Funders, and Failing Isn't an Option

JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny's presidential address at the JFN 2020 Virtual Convening, delivered on March 23, 2020.

*URGENT: If you haven't already, please fill out our Coronavirus Survey for Funders as soon as possible!*

Scroll down or click here to watch this speech.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” said Thomas Paine. And these times are trying ours.

These are times in which our character is being tested; our wisdom; our empathy; our compassion; our selflessness and being tried.

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Of Masks and Plagues (Purim 5780)

Time has a knack for irony.

The last of Chronos’ practical jokes: making us celebrate a holiday in which we disguise ourselves, in the middle of a global pandemic whose symbol is to be the ubiquitous face mask.

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Drowning in a Flood of Instant Gratification (Tu Bishvat 5780)

Stav Harari and Dean Shoshani, both 25, had just started their lives together in a new apartment in the colorful Hatikvah Quarter in South Tel Aviv. Dean was ecstatic, telling his sister that “my dream is coming true every day.”

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Fighting Antisemitism Is More Complicated Than You Think

American Jews are anxious. Antisemitism and Judeophobia, which didn’t used to be overriding concerns in the daily lives of Jewish Americans – and of Jewish leadership and organizations – now dominate the public communal discourse.

This piece doesn’t seek to explain the phenomenon of contemporary antisemitism, as others, like Deborah Lipstadt and Bari Weiss, have done that masterfully already. Nor will I weigh in on which manifestations of antisemitism are most alarming, whether from the right, left, or the Islamic world. Rather, as the president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, I am focusing on the Jewish philanthropic response to antisemitism and offering some guidance for funders on what to do, and most importantly, what not to do, based on what is effective versus what is not just ineffective, but destructive.
Based on our collective experience and on our critical observations of the field, we can distill a few principles that funders can follow.

Read the rest of this article below or on eJewish Philanthropy.

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The Decline and Fall of Every Revolution (Hanukkah 5780)

22 years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev found himself in a situation he never imagined he’d be in: broke.

This was the man who had led a world superpower, signed groundbreaking nuclear arms control agreements, and initiated a transformation of the Soviet Union that  eventually transformed it into a free market economy before collapsing its domination of Eastern Europe into an outbreak of freedom.

In 1997, however, he was on the brink of bankruptcy. In what must have been an excruciating decision, and one which brought him ridicule, he agreed to film a commercial for Pizza Hut.

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What Israel Can Learn from the Hasmoneans

The Forward, December 19, 2019.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Israel is locked in conflict over how to treat non-Jewish people living in the land. Stark divisions are growing between radically different visions of what being Jewish means. Tensions are rising as lines blur between religious and civil authority. And the nation’s relationship with the world’s dominant superpower grows both closer and more fraught.

Welcome to 100 BCE.

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Before the Next Recession, Philanthropy Needs to Redefine Efficiency

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), December 17, 2019.

In a crisis, short-term efficiency can be a shock amplifier. Long-term efficiency comes from building resilient institutions.

There will be another recession. Some economic indicators are already pointing in that direction, like the U.S. Treasury Bond yield curve. It may be mild or severe, and it may be sooner or later. But while we can’t predict the timing or severity, we can be certain that it’s coming. And so, we should be ready.

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