JFN in the Headlines

The latest articles in the media about JFN, as well as op-eds published by JFN members and staff. For a list of articles from before December 2020, email JFN Communications Director Julie Wiener at [email protected]

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.


Jewish Philanthropists Debate MacKenzie Scott’s Giving Strategy

From eJewish Philanthropy (September 10, 2021)


“We’re hearing her name being mentioned as an example,” said Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, executive vice president of the Jewish Funders Network, (JFN), a service organization that is open to donors who give a minimum of $25,000 annually in the name of Jewish values.

Scott’s philanthropic style, which Sager called “trust-based philanthropy,” dovetails neatly with “GrantED,” an initiative of JFN and UpStart that aims to strengthen relationships between grant makers and grantees. GrantED fosters conversations about power dynamics between donors and recipients and educates funders about the need for unrestricted grants that aren’t tied to any one specific program and can be used for general operating support, Sirbu said.

“Racial justice. Educational access. These are big issues Scott’s investing in,” Sirbu said. “She’s inspiring donors to think more about long-term impact.”


Read the full article by Helen Chernikoff in eJewish Philanthropy.


Healing the World, One Network at a Time

From Jewish Standard (July 21, 2021)

Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu of Teaneck has always been interested in both healing and Judaism. Her goal has been to combine those two areas, using one to advance the other.

Read more

Jewish Youth Feel Morality Is Essential to Their Jewish Identity

From Jerusalem Post (July 20, 2021)

In this op-ed, Wayne Green of JFN's Honeycomb (formerly the Jewish Teen Funders Network) explains why the latest Pew Report on Jewish Americans findings highlight the importance of Jewish youth philanthropy programs.

Read the article here.


The Miracle of Jewish Pandemic Giving

From Mosaic Magazine (June 28, 2021)

As for giving by foundations, we have some limited information from a survey conducted by the Jewish Funders Network at the end 2020, covering the first six months of the pandemic. Slightly over half had departed from the previous focus of their giving by supporting basic human needs. Over 85 percent had made emergency grants to address coronavirus relief, totaling over $400 million. Three-quarters increased their outlay of grant funds. And almost all intended to continue giving at the same rate or higher in 2021. (These data were indicative of trends, though the exact percentages may be off, in part because only 30 percent of JFN members responded and not all were foundations.)


Read the full article by Jack Wertheimer in Mosaic Magazine.


Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu Is Bringing Her Brand of Jewish Wisdom to the Jewish Funders Network

From eJewish Philanthropy (June 25, 2021)

Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu has worked in Jewish Community Centers, large nonprofits and small startups. She has run drumming circles, rabbinic networks and websites. The connective tissue is her passion for drawing on Jewish wisdom to heal others, and that’s what she’s determined to bring to her new job as executive vice president at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), Sirbu told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“Foundations need help in the work of healing others,” she said. “We’re helping bring together foundations so that they can help heal the world.”

Read the full article by Helen Chernikoff in eJewish Philanthropy


Charitable Giving from Foundations Rose 17 Percent During the Pandemic

From eJewish Philanthropy (June 16, 2021)

The Jewish Funders Network (JFN), a service organization for foundations, federations and individuals, reported that 72% of its members gave more in 2020 than in previous years, and 57% of those members plan to maintain those higher giving levels, said the group’s CEO, Andres Spokoiny. Slightly more than half of the membership started giving in new issue areas during the pandemic, he added.

“Not only was more money given, but the giving was smarter and more efficient,” he said. “Funders partnered more and eliminated bureaucratic burdens on grantees.”

Read more

Your Daily Phil: JFN Publishes Guide to Jewish Impact Investing

From eJewish Philanthropy (June 14, 2021)

The Jewish Funders Network (JFN) will publish a guide to impact investing as part of a broader effort to encourage the practice on Wednesday, JFN CEO Andres Spokoiny told eJewishPhilanthropy. “We see impact investing as an important tool to supplement more traditional grant-making – while it can’t and shouldn’t replace traditional philanthropy, it can be more effective and more financially sustainable in certain cases,” Spokoiny said.

Read full article in eJewish Philanthropy.


Jewish Organizations Raise Alarms about Proposed Regulations on Philanthropic Giving

From Jewish Insider (June 11, 2021)

“Nobody has an interest [in] parking the money [in donor-advised funds] forever, because you can’t go and buy stuff,” said Andres Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, an organization that connects donors who give at least $25,000 annually in the name of Jewish values. “The reason why people park it is because either they’re saving it for children, because they’re waiting for something, or because they don’t have clarity on what to do.”


Read full article by Gabby Deutch in Jewish Insider.


10 Atlanta Funders Have Formed a Collaborative

From eJewish Philanthropy (June 11, 2021)

When the pandemic hit last spring, Lisa Brill and her daughter-in-law both endured many sleepless nights wondering how COVID-19 would affect Atlanta’s Jewish community, and whether they could harness the disruption for the community’s benefit, Brill said.

They reached out to the Atlanta Jewish Foundation (AJF), which is part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and shared their desire to use the pandemic as an opportunity to work with other donors.

“We’ve been in Atlanta since 1979,” said Brill, whose husband Ron Brill co-founded Home Depot with Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. “This is a dynamic city. We’ve seen the highs and the lows, and we know that things can always get better.”

AJF, in turn, connected with Jewish Funders Network (JFN), of which they are members, said Jori Mendel, AJF’s deputy director. JFN is an education and support organization for family foundations, federations and individuals, and it has developed training and resources to help funders carry out scenario planning that would survey their community’s needs and begin figuring out ways to address them.

The result was a funder collaborative of 10 funders that started in an unusual way, Brill said — there was “no ask.” In addition to the Brills, who initiated the collaborative, participants include the Marcus and Zalik families and donors who range in age from their late 30s to the mid-70s. David Zalik is co-founder and CEO of Atlanta-based fintech company GreenSky.

Read more in eJewish Philanthropy about this unique collaborative powered by JFN.