A UJIA Dinner in London with Israeli Funders

I was happy to be among a delegation of Israeli JFN members whom the UJIA invited to attend  their gala dinner last week in London.

The evening was an overwhelming experience to be part of—850 leading Jewish philanthropists came together in one room to express their support for Israel. This was the first time that UJIA has invited Israeli philanthropists to join their annual event, emphasizing the growing links and partnerships between Israeli funders and Diaspora organizations.

Former IDF Chief of Staff  Benny Gantz was the keynote speaker. He delivered an overview of the strategic challenges facing Israel’s security in the coming years.

Gantz with Barkat

Following that talk, I’ve been thinking about how the field of Israeli philanthropy conceives of our own biggest strategic challenges, and the ways we will need to address them. Obviously a state’s security and a field’s success are completely different matters. But there are some interesting parallels. In both cases we have to remember which problems are truly the most pressing and which merely tend to attract more attention. In both cases we need strong allies and partnerships in order  to ensure success. In both cases we would be wise to devote as much energy to properly understanding our situation (intelligence/evaluation/field-mapping) as we devote to addressing problems with direct action.

After the UJIA Gala, I returned home to Israel invigorated and more sure than ever that the field of Israeli philanthropy will develop ever more new and innovative ventures. Funders can play a role in addressing all of Israel’s challenges, internal and external alike. The more we partner with one another, and with other funders overseas (as this event demonstrated to all of us who were there), the stronger and more unified we will be in confronting and overcoming all the strategic challenges facing Israel, and Diaspora Jewry as well. I’m looking forward to discussing it with other funders from all around the world this March at JFN 2018 in Israel.