Steinhardt Foundation Announces Leadership Changes

The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life has announced several changes in its leadership structure. On the professional side, Rabbi David Gedzelman, who has been leading on various projects of the Foundation for over a decade, has been named the President and CEO. Rabbi Gedzelman first came to work for the Foundation in 1995 to lead in the development and implementation of what became Makor, a facility-based program that engaged young adults in arts and culture and possibilities of Jewish life and learning. Among other things, he has been the lead professional in the Foundation's work in the area of Hebrew Language Charter Schools. Eli Schaap, who has been the Foundation's Director of Education and Research, is now Senior Vice President. On the lay side, Sara Berman, who has been involved … [Read more...]

Implementing the Buffett-Gates Initiative in the Jewish Community

Two weeks ago I reported on a philanthropic initiative developed by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to bring together mega-wealthy people to join them in signing a Giving Pledge that they would set aside a majority of their assets for use in philanthropic ventures. I thought that their idea had relevance for the Jewish community. In response to the posting I received a number of inquiries that endorsed the idea and asked how could such an idea be implemented in Jewish communities. In response, let me suggest guidelines and steps for developing a philanthropic initiative that would involve the wealthiest people in our Jewish communities around the world. Obviously, these are not written in stone, and they would need to be adapted to the culture of giving in each of the individual communities. The … [Read more...]

Birthright Israel Foundation Drops 27% in Private Support 2012 to 2013

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According to the just released Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual rankings of the 400 charities that collect the most from private sources, Birthright Israel Foundation's private support for fiscal 2013 decreased 27.2% from fiscal 2012. UJA-Federation of New York's private support dropped 10.9% and Yeshiva University was down 12.1%. Overall the study found a 10.9-percent increase in money raised from 2012 to 2013 for more than 330 charities that reported contributions for both years. Jewish communal organizations listed include: Total Private Support fiscal 2013 % change from fiscal 2012 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee* $311,992,238 +4.4% Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston* $225,445,590 +7.7% Jewish Communal Fund … [Read more...]

Ralph Goldman, z”l

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced today the passing of Ralph I. Goldman, its beloved Honorary Executive Vice President, a builder of the State of Israel, and a global Jewish leader whose historic investments in Jewish life worldwide have ensured a strong, vibrant Jewish future for generations to come. Goldman, who was 100, died in Jerusalem, which had been his home for decades. “The profound sadness and deep sense of loss we feel today is indescribable: Ralph Goldman was a giant among Jewish leaders, dedicating his life and career to strengthening Israel and to ensuring the survival and vibrancy of Jewish people and communities worldwide,” said JDC President Penny Blumenstein and CEO Alan H. Gill. “A cornerstone of JDC’s global operations for more than four decades, … [Read more...]

If It’s Good for Buffett and Gates, It’s Good for the Jewish Community

By Stephen G. Donshik Several weeks ago I watched the most amazing interview with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on the CBS news magazine program, 60 Minutes. Many of you may have seen it as well. While watching it I immediately thought of Jewish philanthropists who contribute and support nonprofit organizations in their local communities and in Israel. In the TV interview, Buffett and Gates delivered two major messages to philanthropists and donors. … [Read more...]

JFN Releases “Philanthropy 101,” Online Guide for New Philanthropists


The Jewish Funders Network has released an online guide for funders starting out on their philanthropic journey but who are often stalled by the myriad options they face when they try to craft an effective giving program. Called Philanthropy 101, the guide appears in the Resources section of the JFN website. “More people want to make philanthropy part of their lives, but quickly learn that can be a lot easier said than done if you want to do it right,” said Andrés Spokoiny, JFN President and CEO. “We wanted to outline some of the basics so funders can get discussions started with family members, along with their legal and financial advisors, about what approaches to philanthropy might be the best fit.” Philanthropy 101 outlines the key components behind such philanthropic tools as starting … [Read more...]

Why Document Spend Down?

By Charles Bronfman I hold no brief for spend down foundations or for perpetual foundations. In 2001 we chose to spend down the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP). Right from the get-go, we decided to be a proactive foundation by taking on niche issues that both appealed to us and that were not being covered or adequately addressed by others. Also, measurement was an integral part of our philosophy. We believe that everything can, and should, be measured. Too many in the philanthropic world pat themselves on the back, and applaud themselves for having saved the world or at least part of it. We always hoped that whatever applause we received would be based on the achievement of preset goals. … [Read more...]

Trends in Corporate Citizenship and How They Relate to Jewish Philanthropy


An increasing number of businesses are looking for ways to have positive social impact in areas that mirror Jewish philanthropic efforts in Tikkun Olam. Corporations are exploring ways to use their business know-how and influence to impact issues of social and environmental sustainability world-wide. In their book, The Business of Changing the World, Marc Beinoff, Chairman and CEO of, and Carlye Adler interview twenty corporate leaders and demonstrate that a growing number of corporations have proven that “integrating philanthropy into business isn’t a lofty idea, but the secret weapon for twenty-first century companies to achieve success.” How can we, through Jewish philanthropy, leverage our resources and expertise and take advantage of these corporate trends? For example, how do … [Read more...]