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]

Impact Investing Certificate Course Featured

From eJewish Philanthropy (November 12, 2021)

JFN's new Certificate Course in Jewish Impact Investing was featured at the top of eJewish Philanthropy's daily newsletter. 

The Jewish Funders Network (JFN), known for offering its members classes and resources about philanthropic practices and issue areas, is offering an eight-week class about impact investing with New York University (NYU), its first-ever course in partnership with a university, JFN CEO Andres Spokoiny told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“The field of impact investing has grown enormously in the last few years, and this is another milestone in our community benefiting from this emerging practice,” Spokoiny said.

An introduction to investing in ventures that pursue both profit and social goals, the course will also serve as a professional credential. It was designed by Michael Lustig, a philanthropist and proponent of the practice who is a professor of finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

JFN board members Vanessa Bartram and Douglas Bitonti Stewart have also helped encourage a conversation about impact investing among JFN’s members, who give a minimum of $25,000 a year in the name of Jewish values. JFN hopes the course will inspire more foundations to consider impact investing, Spokoiny said.


Philanthropic Lessons from an Epic Syrian Relief Effort

From eJewish Philanthropy (November 11, 2021)


In this op-ed, JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny shares the philanthropic lessons that can be learned from former JFN Board Chair Georgette Bennett's book, "Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By." As he notes, the lessons are "not unique to a civil war or a natural disaster but can be applied to any philanthropic field."


Read the article on eJewish Philanthropy.


Israel Ideas Festival Featured

From eJewish Philanthropy (October 26, 2021)

JFN's Israel Ideas Festival was featured at the top of the daily eJewish Philanthropy newsletter.

The Jewish Funders Network’s (JFN) two-day “Israel Ideas Festival” began yesterday online and in-person in both Tel Aviv and New York. It will attract a combined audience of about 350 people, a majority of whom are participating online.

Yesterday’s programming was focused on Israel’s relationship with the Arab world and with international Jewry, with a focus on the implications of the Abraham Accords. Israeli comedian Guri Alfi, whose four-part television program “The New Jew” explored American-Jewish life, spoke in Tel Aviv on the subject of Jewish peoplehood.

Today’s program offers sessions on specific issues, such as at-risk women, the elderly and workforce development. A discussion about impact investing features Diane Isenberg, founder of Ceniarth, who is known for tackling the question of whether such investors must accept possible sacrifices to financial returns in pursuit of social good.

The festival was intended to be an in-person, international event in Tel Aviv that would celebrate the end of the COVID era. Israel’s seven-day quarantine requirement compelled JFN to rework its plans.


JFN members can watch videos of most Israel Ideas Festival programs on our Members-Only Videos page.


The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life in 2021

From The Algemeiner (October 13, 2021)

The Algemeiner's list of the top 100 people includes JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny, along with several JFN members: Felicia Herman of the Maimonides Fund, Terry Kassel of the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Stacy Schusterman of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and Ariel Zwang of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Read the full article in The Algemeiner.


Why This Israeli Foundation Professional Is Pushing Colleagues to Go Green

From eJewish Philanthropy (October 12, 2021)

This article is about efforts by Tali Yariv-Mashal, an active member of JFN's Green Funders Forum, to encourage Jewish and Israeli philanthropists to address climate concerns. Tali, Director of the Beracha Foundation and Chair of the Israel Forum of Foundations, helped draft an international pledge that aims to persuade foundations to integrate environmental awareness and action into their work. The “International Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change,” was created under the auspices of WINGS, an international membership organization that supports foundations and facilitates collaboration between them.

Read the article by Helen Chernikoff on eJewish Philanthropy.


Which Local Jewish Institutions Shared the $1.3M Zuckerberg-Chan Gift?

From J: The Jewish News of Northern California (October 6, 2021)

This article about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's first Jewish gifts -- and efforts to woo Jewish Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to support Jewish organizations -- quotes JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny.

With a few notable exceptions, Jewish Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg have not emerged as major philanthropists in the local Jewish community. Andres Spokoiny, president of the Jewish Funders Network, said this was partly because many are not connected to their Jewish identity.

“To think that somebody who has been estranged from the Jewish community all their life is suddenly going to respond to an appeal because their name finishes in ‘berg’ is a mistake,” Spokoiny said.

Read the article by Dan Pine in J: The Jewish News of Northern California.


Connecting Jewish Youth to Their Faith through Giving

From Insights, the newsletter of Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (September 14, 2021)

In this essay, Wayne Green of JFN's Honeycomb, writes about the importance of Jewish youth philanthropy programs in shaping the next generation of committed Jews and Jewish funders.

What does our giving say about us? This is a good question for teens to ask themselves as they begin their journey of learning to do philanthropy well.

As adults and educators working with teens, there are important questions to ask ourselves as well. How do we represent our experiences and learnings from childhood with the teens with whom we work? What are the core principles of religion, ‘ah-ha’ moments from our experiences, stories shared from grandparents and ancestors long gone, and the family and faith traditions that inspire us to act to make change for good today? How can we inspire youth to draw on these questions during their philanthropic journey?

Read the full piece here.


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