Press Release: JFN Announces Recipients of Matching Grants in Honor of Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas joins JFN & Genesis Prize Foundation in announcing funds for 28 innovative programs targeting greater engagement of intermarried families in Jewish life


NEW YORK (May 22, 2016) –Jewish Funders Network (JFN) today announced the recipients of funding under the matching grants program, created in honor of 2015 Genesis Prize Laureate Michael Douglas. The announcement, made at the 5th annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, identified 28 projects under Michael Douglas’ chosen theme,Avenues to Jewish Engagement for Intermarried Couples and their Families. The projects will result in $3.3 million in new funds being dedicated to this philanthropic area.

“Today the Jewish world opened its doors a little wider,” said Andrés Spokoiny, President & CEO of JFN. “And the impact goes beyond these grants. The gifts being matched, as well as the whole range of amazing projects that were submitted, represent new donors and newly increased levels of giving that this area has never seen before. I want to express my gratitude to the Genesis Prize Foundation and other philanthropists, who were inspired by Michael Douglas, to support this critically important initiative that will have a transformative effect on Jewish life all over the world.”

Academy Award winning actor, activist and supporter of Israel Michael Douglas won the Genesis Prize in 2015. In lieu of accepting the prize money, he redirected the funds to promote inclusion and diversity in Jewish life, including a $200,000 gift to the Jewish student organization, Hillel International.

The remainder of the award, combined with an additional $1 million gift from philanthropist Roman Abramovich, created a matching grant initiative that was administered by Jewish Funders Network, the global network organization for Jewish philanthropists. (For more details on the program, please see Background.)

The winning projects due to receive funding include:

  • Honeymoon Israel, a program offering subsidized trips to Israel for couples with at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship.

  • Jewish ArtEck, a summer camp in Berlin, Germany, open to Jews from intermarried families.

  • JCC Manhattan, which will establish Circles of Welcome, a program to engage intermarried couples and their families in Jewish life and community through mentor-led learning groups.

The full list of recipients is available in the Background section.

“I am very pleased with the breadth, scope and innovative spirit of the projects that received funding,” said Michael Douglas. “No doubt, they will open the door to many intermarried couples and their children who wish to connect with their Jewish roots.”

Michael Douglas followed the tradition of re-gifting the $1 million Genesis Prize award, a tradition established by Michael R. Bloomberg, the inaugural Genesis Prize Laureate. Bloomberg deferred the $1 million award to fund the Genesis Generation Challenge, a competition for young social entrepreneurs. Violinist Itzhak Perlman, who will receive his Genesis Prize in June, has announced that he will direct his $1 million, plus another $1 million matched by philanthropist Roman Abramovich, to philanthropic projects which support individuals with disabilities and to those in the field of music. Details will be announced in June during his trip to Israel to accept the Prize.


The goal of Avenues to Jewish Engagement for Intermarried Couples and their Families was to mobilize the philanthropic community to increase the number of funders and grant dollars, supporting organizations and projects that foster a culture of acceptance within the Jewish community. The particular focus of the grant program was to enhance opportunities for Jewish involvement available to intermarried Jews, their life partners and their children.

The matching grant’s review committee received 81 applications from 14 countries representing over 100 unique funders for this grant opportunity. The 28 winning recipients span seven countries: the United States, Israel, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and China. Each of the organization’s projects will run for up to two years, with periodic assessments of their success and impact to be submitted to JFN.


The following is a full list of grant recipients:

  • Be’chol Lashon: Organizational support which will help the organization expand popular programs and pilot new ones

  • Big Tent Judaism: Organizational support which will allow the organization to expand the scope and impact of current program offerings

  • Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University: Project support for a research study which will examine how intermarried couples make decisions regarding religion and family life

  • European Janusz Korczak Academy: Project support to expand the Jewish Family Center “Mishpacha,” a program for intermarried couples and their children in Germany.

  • Friends of Rodeph Sholom School: Organizational support which will allow the organization to focus on growing enrollment from intermarried families.

  • Hebrew College: Project support to establish the first accredited program for Jewish educators focusing on the Jewish family education of intermarried parents and children.

  • Hillel at UCLA: Organizational support which will allow the organization to continue engaging students, particularly students from intermarried families, effectively.

  • Honeymoon Israel: Project support for post-trip programming and alternative activities for NYC couples that apply but do not participate on the trip.

  • IKAR: Project support for several programs designed to make Jewish life and practice accessible for everyone, particularly interfaith families, through key access points. 

  • InterfaithFamily: Organizational support which will allow the organization to focus on evaluation and website redesign.

  • International Jewish Student Organization “Hillel” (Ukraine): Program support to expand “Vconnecte,” a primary engagement project designed specifically to attract unaffiliated students to Jewish communities around the region.

  • J-ArtEck Youth Education Center: Project support for the international camp program, which serves a large amount of teens from intermarried families, as well as Madrichim training and post-camp programming.

  • JCC Manhattan: Project support for Circles of Welcome, a new program offering an accessible entry point for positive engagement in Jewish life and community for interfaith couples/families.

  • JCC Warszawa (Jewish Community Center of Warsaw): Project support to aid the JCC in continuing to be an entrance point for families, the majority of whom are intermarried, to become involved in Jewish life in Warsaw.

  • Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival: Project support for a first-time cinematic tribute to Jewish identity in cinema through the prism of intermarriage, using classical and contemporary works.

  • Jewbelong: Project support for a branding campaign to engage the Jewish community, particularly the unengaged and those from intermarried families, in a meaningful way around holidays and other Jewish practices.

  • Jewish Family Service of the Cincinnati Area: Project support for an interfaith family engagement program which will include discussion groups, connections to local organizations, and mentoring.

  • Judaism Your Way: Organizational support which will enable the organization to strengthen its development efforts and ensure the maintenance of current program offerings.

  • Kidum Le-Aliyah: Project support for a roundtable discussion focusing on inclusion of intermarried couples and families in Jewish life. Participants will include researchers, decision-makers, thought leaders and other experts in the field.

  • Memphis Jewish Federation: Project support for the Millennial Challenge, a micro-grant program to support initiatives which seek to engage unaffiliated or marginally affiliated Millennial Jews in Memphis, many of whom are from interfaith families.

  • PJ Library: Project support to expand PJ Library to new markets with the goal of reaching new subscribers and interfaith families particularly

  • Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: Project support for the expansion of current, successful program offerings for intermarried couples and families.

  • Temple Shaaray Tefila of Northern Westchester: Project support to expand the synagogue’s programmatic offerings to engage intermarried families in Northern Westchester, including family events and adult learning.

  • The Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism: Project support to expand current B’nai Mitzvah programming for intermarried families, including specific curriculum, marketing, and B’nai Mitzvah subsidies.

  • The United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong: Organizational support which will allow the organization to expand its capacity in youth programming, adult education/community engagement, and membership efforts.

  • Union for Reform Judaism: Project support for the JewV’Nation Fellowship, a new project incubator and innovative leadership development program for creative leaders dedicated to Jewish outreach, particularly for unaffiliated, underrepresented Jews, many of whom are intermarried or in interfaith relationships.

  • United Israel Appeal of Canada: Project support for Honeymoon Israel, particularly to bring this particular intermarried experiential education and community development initiative to Canada

  • United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism: Project support to help synagogues include interfaith couples and families in congregational life and Jewish community in authentic, substantive, and meaningful ways.

About The Genesis Prize

The Genesis Prize seeks to recognize individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel. The Prize, in the amount of $1 million—endowed by the Genesis Prize Foundation and awarded annually by the Prime Minister of Israel to a single individual— was established by a unique partnership among the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Genesis Prize Foundation, and the Office of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

About Jewish Funders Network (JFN)

JFN is an international organization dedicated to maximizing the quality and impact of Jewish philanthropy. Our members include independent philanthropists, foundation trustees and foundation professionals. JFN leverages the power and the creativity of networks to produce change in the world. The Matching Grants Initiatives of JFN are part of an innovative strategy to increase the base contributions of donors for a given field of Jewish philanthropy. Since their inception in 2004, matching grants have generated over $90 million in new funding for Jewish causes. For more information please go to 


Genesis Prize Foundation, New York: Ali Rose +1(267) 738-0677 [email protected]

Genesis Prize Foundation, Tel Aviv: Arik Elman +972-543-05-1140 [email protected]

Jewish Funders Network: Seth Chalmer +1(212) 726-0177x218 [email protected]