Foundation for Jewish Culture to Close

The planned closure of the New York based Foundation for Jewish Culture brings to the forefront several key philanthropic questions, including the future of “national” vs. “local” funding and the continued importance of Jewish culture as an entry point for “Next-Gen” engagement and philanthropy.

FJC from Vimeo

Gary Rosenblatt writing in The Jewish Week:

Foundation For Jewish Culture To Close Next Year

Even as the Foundation for Jewish Culture embarks on an ambitious season of programming this fall, its board of directors, faced with ongoing financial shortfalls, has voted to go out of business next year, The Jewish Week has learned.

The New York-based foundation has been the country’s leading resource and advocate for Jewish culture and creativity in the United States for more than 50 years.

Elise Bernhardt, its president and CEO, said in an interview prior to the formal announcement of the closing this week that over the next year her job, and that of her staff, will be to find homes for some of the foundation’s successful programs in mission-compatible organizations around the country.

… The foundation, which was created in 1960 by the Jewish federation system, appears to be the victim of philanthropic contraction at a time of declining support for national Jewish organizations.

Allocations to the foundation from the Jewish Federations of North America’s National Federation/Agency Alliance, which has dramatically cut giving to all its beneficiaries, had steadily decreased over the last several years from about $700,000 a year to about $150,000. Another Alliance beneficiary, the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA), closed this summer.

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  1. says

    I encourage people to read the full article and point out in particular past chair Judith Ginsberg’s comment, ” It’s not a tragedy, it’s a smart move; it’s the programs that are important.” And from new Exec of San Francisco’s CJM, “To its great credit the foundation has done the transformative work that it has, helping museums like mine and others, and Jewish community centers, develop an institutional commitment to Jewish culture…and raising the bar high.”

  2. says

    While the programs are important, they can be taken over or replaced. What cannot be replaced is the brand equity that the foundation has accumulated over the past 50 years as a creative catalyst and the leading advocate for the place of culture on the Jewish communal agenda and the role of culture in American Jewish identity formation… particularly for those who are unengaged with the mainstream communal agencies, religious denominations, and Israel-oriented sectors of the American Jewish community.