Philanthropy in Motion: The Benefits of Running for a Cause

Doron Almog puts a medal on a child from ALEH at the 2014 Jerusalem Marathon. Photo courtesy ALEH.

By Jason Gardner In my social circles, it is well known that I take running very seriously. As an elite runner, marathons and spontaneous off-road excursions are a big part of my life. As a Jewish communal professional, I spend a fair share of my time encouraging others to incorporate running into their lives. The reasoning is simple. … [Read more...]

At ‘Bat Mitzvah,’ Israeli Center Seeks more Women’s Advancement Milestones

“It appears that halacha trumps God’s justice, a great pity in a system so centered on justice.” Blu Geeenberg By Judy Lash Balint The controversy surrounding Israel’s complex framework of laws relating to family life is well-known. Often portrayed via popular culture in films and books, the laborious get (Jewish divorce) process, along with other issues relating to the status of women in family law, are a major concern among both secular and Torah-observant Israelis. Against that backdrop, one Israeli institution dedicated to bringing about legal and social change is the Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women, housed within the faculty of law at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. Last week, the center celebrated its “bat mitzvah” year with a … [Read more...]

Together in Israel: Reimagining the Congregational Israel Trip

By Lindsay Ganci and Rabbi Danny Burkeman Many people have traveled to Israel on a family trip, many have taken part in teen trips to Israel, and a lucky few have traveled on both. This past February, we organized a congregational Israel trip that would blend the experiences of a family and teen trip into one hybrid adventure. When our congregation began talking about a family trip to Israel, one of our congregants approached us and asked about the possibility of offering a parallel teenage trip for our youth program, POWTY (Port Washington Temple Youth). This was around the same time that Taglit-Birthright expanded their eligibility criteria so that teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school would still be eligible to a place on a free trip. This removed what had … [Read more...]

Facebook Problems, Israeli Solutions: How My Nonprofit Leveraged Israeli Technology to Launch a Social Media Platform for Under $1,000


By Bradley Caro Cook Not long ago, Birthright Alumni experienced something of a social media tragedy when Facebook launched its new platform. Group policies shifted, and administrators were responsible for renewing their groups or they wouldn't carry over to the new and improved site. Many administrators were unaware of the new policy, and the result was unfortunate: thousands of Birthright Israel alumni who had relied on Facebook pages to stay connected watched their groups disappear, and with no follow-up framework for them to reconnect, countless relationships were lost. Hearing the stories of long-lost buses, I hoped to integrate a strong social media component into my organization, Project Beyond, a week-long personalized Israel trip extension, often tacked onto the end of a Birthright … [Read more...]

Fundraisers on Commission: Get What You Pay For

commission fundraising

By Gila Weinberg The classic nonprofit fundraising catch-22: you need a professional fundraiser to bring in support for your important work, but you don’t have the funds to offer a competitive salary for said fundraiser; after all, you don’t even have money for your core projects - how can you justify a full time senior salary? One seemingly elegant solution to this conundrum is the fundraising on commission model.  Simply put, the fundraiser is expected to raise his or her own salary. The logic behind this approach runs as follows: since this person promises to bring in X amount of support annually, s/he can deduct a percentage or a monthly salary from whatever comes in.  The nonprofit does not take any financial risk, and both sides stand to gain from the relationship, right? Not … [Read more...]

From Individual Participants to a Generation: The Evolution of a Theory of Change

Ein Prat Midrasha

By Leah Beinhaker Reuven Alumni as Participants Healthy civil society organizations grow and evolve, like all living organisms. In good times, the resources we have for doing good multiply, the number of beneficiaries we serve expands and the positive impact we make increases. This is obvious enough. What is perhaps not as obvious is that such growth sometimes occasions an evolution of an organization’s very theory of change - its understanding of how it enhances society - and with it, the organization’s end goal. When Ein Prat - The Midrasha (‘the Midrasha’) opened its first program for Israelis in their twenties in 2005, it recruited all of six people. The intensive and pluralistic nature of the program - a four-month framework of full-time Jewish text learning for “secular” and … [Read more...]

Bridging the Gap Year: Hevruta Program forges Israeli-American Bonds

Hevruta program participants celebrate Hanukkah. Photo courtesy of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

By Deborah Fineblum Schabb  Eighteen-year-olds have a habit of forming close, family-like relationships with each other. It’s rare, however, that Israeli and American teenagers living thousands of miles apart have the chance to create such bonds. But this year, 25 teens have been doing just that as part of a first-of-its-kind program. Watching the participants of the new Hevruta program for the so-called “gap year” between high school and college, it’s hard to imagine that these young adults didn’t always know each other, much less laugh at each other’s jokes. In reality, they grew up with languages, mores, and cultures that were quite literally a world apart. Yet with Hevruta’s new wrinkle in the familiar gap-year concept, they spend the year learning and growing together in Israel - … [Read more...]

A Critical Moment in Israeli-American Jewish Relations

By Jay Ruderman "If religious parties place demands on the governing coalition to adopt policies that de-legitimize the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations, they affront the very identities of numerous American Jews." The jury is still out on how the new Israeli government will approach Jewish pluralism and the country’s relationship with American Jews. There’s almost no doubt that the strengthening of the religious parties’ role in the government will impact the religious status quo for mainstream Israelis. But putting them in the driver’s seat on issues that directly affect American Jewry could potentially raise issues that impact a community which serves as a strategic asset for Israel’s security. Israeli columnist Shmuel Rosner warns that the 61-seat government is “going to deal with a … [Read more...]