Weekend Reading

It's the darkest day (literally) of a pretty dark year (figuratively), so let's brighten the night with some enlightening articles on Jewish philanthropy.

America’s Jewish Community Leads in Per Capita Giving

Larry Kaplan, Nonprofit Quarterly

Many Americans Jews are descendants of immigrants who escaped persecution and discrimination elsewhere and identify with and support groups that are currently suffering or even oppressed, Jewish or not. However, an equally important factor is that as American Jews become more assimilated and financially successful (hence there is less need within their own community), and some to the point of losing much of their Jewish identity, their philanthropy is being directed to the causes that resonate with today’s challenges and communities in need.

Nothing Should Keep Us from Listening

Lindsay Louie, Center for Effective Philanthropy

Staying connected outside the foundation starts inside with a mindset of openness, curiosity, and willingness to see and do things differently — all of which is within a foundation’s control.

The New Tax Legislation: Implications for the Third Sector And What It May Mean for Jewish Philanthropy

Steven Windmueller, eJewish Philanthropy

Currently, about 30 percent of individual federal tax returns are itemized; under the new law, if passed, that number may be as few as five percent. This will result in a $13 billion annual reduction in gifts to charity, according to some philanthropic experts, while others are forecasting losses as high as $20 billion.

Andres Spokoiny, President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network concluded:

“The consensus among experts is that when all is said and done, it will be detrimental for charities and philanthropy.” Spokoiny continues: “the counter argument is that if this plan works as its proponents suggest, people will have more money in their pockets and they may give more (to charity). It also may create more jobs, which will mean more money in the market and less need for welfare services… but it’s hard to gauge because changes in the bill could change the impact.”

Lila Corwin Berman

How Americans Give: The Financialization of American Jewish Philanthropy

Lila Corwin Berman, The American Historical Review

The American state’s deregulation of finance and its partnership with private industry and actors in matters related to public policy nurtured the growth of philanthropy, and also empowered philanthropic organizations to interpret and craft state policy. American Jewish philanthropic institutions, which already commanded trendsetting power by the middle decades of the twentieth century, played a crucial role in reshaping American philanthropy. These institutions and their leaders became literate in American tax policy and took active roles in reforming it by lobbying for and, sometimes, crafting tax code changes. Their efforts contributed to the reordering and decline of the American welfare state in favor of the growth of private capital. American Jewish philanthropy—sometimes called tzedakah—drew from the central texts, beliefs, and rituals of Jewish life, yet its modern form served as a tool of political economy that allowed Jews to construct their interests and those of the democratic state as coincident projects of survival through capital practices.

We asked our board to discuss the issue of sexual harassment. This is what happened:

Deborah A. Baron, eJewish Philanthropy

The discussion was not as fraught as we might have feared. Most board members appreciated and agreed upon the importance of discussing sexual harassment. When considering relationships between staff and donors, between board members and staff, among board members themselves and between board members and donors, we face a complicated environment in which to explore how to prevent unwanted attention. Most critically, we made the right decision to open the discussion.

B’tselem Elohim: Jewish Ethics, Sexual Harassment and the Workplace of the Future

David Teutsch, Mira Wasserman and Deborah Waxman, eJewish Philanthropy

The current tidal wave of women speaking out may mark a sea change in how American society deals with these issues. However, women speaking up is not enough. There must be a vast increase in education and training around these issues in schools, corporations and institutions of all kinds if such behavior is to be banished. Such programs must examine the way that the assertion of power, an inflated sense of entitlement and objectification of women are essential parts of sexual exploitation.

New Report: Students Report on Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses

eJewish Philanthropy

Jewish students are rarely exposed to antisemitism on campus... Jewish students do not think their campus is hostile to Jews... Jewish students are exposed to hostile remarks toward Israel on campus... The majority of students disagree that there is a hostile environment toward Israel on campus... Support for BDS is rare... Israel and Jews are not a top concern for students... Jewish students feel safe and that they belong on campus.

JFN Members Featured in The Jerusalem Post's "8 Days of Olim" Series

Yossi Abramowitz
Dvora Corn
Joseph Gitler

Risking Boldly: a new Letter to the Field from The Nathan Cummings Foundation

Philanthropy is uniquely built to take risks and support work that pushes the edges of what is comfortable and what is conceivable.


The Problem with Donor-Advised Funds—and a Solution

Mark Hurtubise, SSIR

Commercial national charities in the United States are warehousing billions of dollars that should be going to mission-driven nonprofits.

Shabbat shalom and have a great weekend.