The President's Desk: Andrés Spokoiny

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

Back to Childhood for a Day—or More

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel

Every time I go back to Argentina my mother makes me feel like a child. She reminds me to button up my coat, impervious to the fact that I survive quite well during the other 350 days of the year, many of which I spent in freezing temperatures. She also reminds me, with gestures that futilely try to be discrete, not to put my elbows on the table, ignoring the fact that in the last few decades I’ve dined with business leaders, politicians, and social leaders, none of whom found my table manner particularly disturbing.

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Finding Light in the Darkness

As somebody who grew up in the Southern Hemisphere, the wintery nature of Chanukah used to elude me. During my childhood, Christmas fell in summer, and people celebrated it with open air barbecues and outings to the beach. We had our fair share of snowy Santa Clauses dispatched by department stores and charities, but they tended to gradually melt until becoming red and white puddles on the boiling pavement. For Jewish Day School students, Chanukah usually fell outside of the school year and was celebrated by youth movements and summer camps with sports jousts that reminded more of the Greek foes than of the Maccabean liberators.

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Roots of Intolerance Still Firmly Planted 19 Years After Rabin Assassination

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel

I consider myself to be an incorrigible optimist. I’m an eternal searcher for glasses half full and silver linings. Yet, there was a day on which I couldn’t find a glimpse of optimism or a spark of hope. It was November 4, 1995, when an assassin killed Yitzhak Rabin and ended one of the most prolific and transformational lives in the history of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

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The Strength of Our Fragility During the Chag

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel

Jewish tradition has a lot of paradoxes, but Sukkot is probably the biggest of them all.

Yom Kippur probably hired PR consultants to make us forget that Sukkot used to be the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar. It’s called “Hechag,” THE holiday. When the Talmudic rabbis referred to the chag without adding a specific holiday, it was obvious they were referring to the Festival of Tabernacles.

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The Day After

Cross-posted on eJewish Philanthropy and the Times of Israel

Israel never had a victory parade.

Even when military triumphs were outstanding and even miraculous, Israelis knew wars are not something to be celebrated. They can feel proud of the way their soldiers and civilian sector dealt with threats and challenges to Israel’s security and very existence. Yet, pride is not joy.

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What Are Funders to Do? Implications of the Pew Report

Sometimes we need to spawn many new organizations, and sometimes we need intelligent birth control.

eJewish Philanthropy, August 10, 2014

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Shavuot Marks Society Bound by Covenant of Words, Not Use of Force

The Times of Israel, June 3, 2014

Imagine a country that says “we are going to get rid of all law enforcement agencies.” There will be no police, no army, and no coercion whatsoever. Sound like a hippie utopia? Can you hear John Lennon singing in the background?

Wait, it gets better.

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Redefining Freedom as Pesach Nears

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel.

Those of you with young children or grandchildren surely know books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate. My kids love them and I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, of course, to wean them from these literary paupers. I started a quixotic quest to introduce them to the classics with one of the favorite authors of my youth: Alexandre Dumas.  In so doing, I couldn’t help but think about Pesach.

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Mounting a Comeback for Pluto: Funders’ Whims and Responsibilities in Israel and Beyond

Cross-posted at the Times of Israel

I played an April Fool’s Day prank on the Jewish Funders Network staff last week. I told them a major funder wanted to have Pluto designated a planet once again.

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No More "Rich Uncle from America"

Cross-posted on the Times of Israel

The biggest problem when driving in Israel is not that people are reckless, but that they don’t want to be “frayerim.” As in, “I’m not going to be the frayer who stays in the slow lane,” or “I’m not going to be the frayer who lets that car in my lane.”

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