The President's Desk: Andrés Spokoiny

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

The Seder: Liberation and Radical Empathy

Cross-posted at The Times of Israel, April 19, 2016

Every culture has etiological myths, foundational stories that relate the origins of the people in question. Those stories — which generally have a supernatural dimension — are not merely explanatory, but convey something essential about how that group sees itself.

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Empowered Humility: Andrés Spokoiny's Address to JFN 2016

JFN President & CEO Andrés Spokoiny's annual address to the 2016 JFN International Conference was entitled Empowered Humility: Leveraging Your Limitations in Philanthropy.

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The Haman Within: Purim 5776

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel, March 22, 2016

Purim is a holiday in which we are not afraid to be ridiculous. We don funny costumes; we drink ourselves into oblivion; we are boisterous and noisy. Purim is all about ridicule.

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The Next Big Thing, or the Next Near Thing?

Cross-posted at eJewish Philanthropy

If I had a penny for every time someone talked to me about creating “the next Birthright” or “the next PJ library,” I’d be a millionaire.

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Time for the Jewish Community to Learn About the Birds and the Bees

Cross-posted at eJewish Philanthropy

Sometime in the cretaceous, flowers “discovered” that bees could be an amazingly useful tool in their reproduction. Those flowers then started an arms race to develop the most brilliant colors and the tastiest, sweetest nectar, so as to attract the pollinating bees. Some 30-odd million years later, somebody crashed the party: the hummingbird.

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Toward ‘Radical Transparency’ In Philanthropy

The Jewish Week, January 19, 2016

William O. Douglas, the longest-serving U.S. Supreme Court justice, said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” But as a proverbial Jewish mother might note, too much sunlight can also give you skin cancer.

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Star Wars and Jewish Cosmic Wars

The Jewish Journal, December 31, 2015

I made a bet with myself that I could resist using the Star Wars craze as an analogy to write something about the state of the Jewish world. The moment I lost that bet was when I discovered, in Terror in the Name of God, Mark Juergensmeyer’s landmark book about religious extremism, the concept of “cosmic war.”  Then I realized that, just as Darth Vader and Han Solo are involved in a cosmic struggle, so too are we. Sadly.

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Maccabean Dream or Hasmonean Nightmare? (Chanukkah 5776)

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel

In 1972, during Richard Nixon’s visit to China, Premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the French Revolution. He responded, “Too early to tell”. His answer is celebrated to this day as an illustration of the supposed Chinese ability—and the Western need—to take the long view of history.

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JFN Statement on the Paris Attacks

JFN exprime sa solidarité et son soutien au peuple français dans ces moments tragiques. Nos pensées et nos prières sont avec les victimes et avec nos partenaires et amis à Paris. Les valeurs que la France a offert au monde s'imposeront face à cet attentat lâche et sanglant. Liberté, égalité et fraternité!

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Getting Past the Hamster Wheel

Cross-posted at eJewish Philanthropy

One of the most popular recurrent dreams comes in different variations, but the core feeling is always the same: we run but we don’t advance. We wake up with a feeling of being caught in an inescapable hamster wheel, a sort of eternal Sisyphean cycle of useless effort. I leave the explanation of these dreams to neuroscientists, psychologists, and astrologists, but my own interpretation is a metaphor for a deep malaise that affects that philanthropic sector: the inability to produce systemic change.

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