managing our future

AI: The revolution is upon us

In Short

Artificial Intelligence may provide us with an opportunity to appreciate more fully who we are, and in this age of technological discovery and social uncertainty, how Judaism may actually hold a more profound and meaningful anchor within our lives.

AI will profoundly impact the Jewish communal system, leading to some fundamental restructuring in such areas as how information will be managed, which communal professional positions will be redefined or eliminated and what data can be obtained when managing fund raising prospects.

AI offers a wide array of opportunities but also presents significant challenges:

“If we do it right, we might be able to evolve a form of work that taps into our uniquely human capabilities and restores our humanity. The ultimate paradox is that this technology may become a powerful catalyst that we need to reclaim our humanity.” 1.

Background Data

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report estimates that in just a few years (by 2025), we could see as many as 85 million jobs displaced due to a shift in the division of labor because of these technologies. However, even more new roles (97 million) will likely emerge as the landscape adapts to the new shift of labor division between humans and machines and algorithms. 2.

A Snapshot Picture: Making a Difference

The data collected suggests that AI will have specific impact in three core areas:

  1. Fundraising: Jewish organizations will be employing AI to improve their fundraising efforts by analyzing data on donor behavior and preferences to identify potential donors and target them with more personalized appeals. 
  2. Program Delivery: The Jewish community will be able to incorporate AI to improve the delivery of programs and services by analyzing data on program outcomes while identifying areas for operational improvement. 
  3. Operations:  AI will also be used to automate routine administrative tasks for Jewish organizations, in such areas as data entry and report generation. 3. AI can help organizations achieve this by automating repetitive tasks, analyzing large datasets and identifying patterns and insights that humans may miss. For example, AI can be used to streamline the grant application process, reduce administrative workload and improve fundraising strategies by identifying potential donors. 4.

One of the most significant applications of AI is for social good, or the use of AI to develop solutions that can help improve the quality of life for individuals and communities. AI can be used to tackle a wide range of social policy issues, including poverty, health care access, education and climate change. 5.

Implications for the Work Force:

The Forbes analysis of the capacity of AI to improve work force performance offers additional insights:

  • Improved Efficiency: AI can help automate certain tasks and processes, freeing up small staff with limited resources to focus on more important and value-added activities.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making: AI can help nonprofit organizations analyze large amounts of data and extract insights that can inform decision-making.
  • Increased Donor Engagement: AI can help nonprofit organizations better understand donor preferences and behaviors and tailor their outreach and fundraising efforts to better meet the needs and interests of donors.
  • Improved Communication and Outreach: AI can analyze data on the effectiveness of different channels and messages to better understand what works and what doesn’t, and optimize their communication strategies. 6.

Ethical Implications:

As we engage with this information system, an increasing number of ethical and policy issues are surfacing:

….Nonprofits must work with experts who can help them understand the potential ethical implications of AI. They should also carefully select the data they use to train their AI systems and regularly monitor their algorithms for bias. Nonprofits should also consider creating ethical guidelines for their use of AI, outlining their principles and policies for using the technology in a responsible and fair manner. 7.

Moving Forward:

In examining the implications for the Jewish communal system, four outcomes were generated:

  1. Automating Repetitive Tasks: AI can automate routine and repetitive tasks such as data entry, report generation and customer service, freeing up staff time for more strategic and impactful work.
  2. Improving Efficiency: AI can help nonprofits work more efficiently by streamlining processes and reducing the time and resources required to complete tasks.
  3. Enhancing Customer Service: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide quick and personalized responses to customers, reducing the burden on human staff.
  4. Providing Data Analysis: AI can analyze large amounts of data and provide insights to support decision-making and inform strategy. 8.

Judaism and AI:

Rebbe.io was developed in 2020. This AI site contains the Torah and other key Jewish sources and has the ability to scan through these materials, offering answers to questions related to Jewish law and practice. 9. Already underway are major conferences seeking to uncover the implications of Artificial Intelligence on Jewish religious thought and practice. 10. Similarly, a body of literature is being shaped designed to explore the broad impact of AI on Judaism. 11.

Examining AI’s capacity to provide and analyze Jewish information:

“ChatGPT can operate as a well-rounded encyclopedia of Judaism, swiftly answering “Who, What, Where and When” inquiries. It dispenses information related to the Talmud and Mishna, and provides summary bios of Jewish figures, whether they are medieval commentators such as Rashi and Maimonides, or modern Israeli icons such as Naomi Shemer or Golda Meir. Its ritual knowledge was such that it could give the sources and explain the significance of Hanukkah or the lighting of two candles in honor of Shabbat. Because the AI is programmed to avoid bias, it will assess, in a neutral manner, topics with multiple perspectives, whether it’s analyzing the role of religion in Israel’s political system…” 12.

The Challenges: Analyzing the Downsides of Artificial Intelligence

In examining the literature, we identified five negative outcomes in connection with employing AI in the work setting:

AI Isn’t Always Better or Faster: Doing something with AI doesn’t always mean the results are superior to other ways of achieving the same outcome.

Take, for example, the identification of major donors. There are many ways that AI can be used to help identify major donors: improving wealth screening, predicting the best means of making an ask, predicting which contacts look most like current major donors. However, there are other ways to accomplish each of these tasks besides AI, and without the hassle and expense of employing this technology. AI has to be better or faster than these alternatives, otherwise there’s no reason to adopt this system.

AI Maybe Too Much Work. AI often requires already overworked nonprofit staff to do more work, both in securing recommendations from AI, and then in finding a way to implement them.

AI Requires Trust: Prioritizing a prospect or making important fundraising decisions based simply on a model generated score or label without any understanding of how the model works requires a nonprofit staff member to truly trust AI — and perhaps put their credibility on the line. That’s often too much of an ask for a nonprofit.

AI Often Isn’t Affordable: Standalone AI platforms are often one-size-fits-all with extensive capabilities, most of which may not be helpful to the smaller nonprofit . Yet, organizations are often charged the same regardless of what capabilities they need and use. These fees can make AI only affordable to those nonprofits with larger budgets.

AI Often Overlooks Adoption: AI solutions can produce some incredibly interesting and complex insights that no other methods could uncover. However, there is a difference between interesting and actionable! The question of “So What? What Next?” is a one that is overlooked by the vast majority of AI platforms. Without knowing how to action a specific insight, ROI (Return on Investment) from AI cannot be achieved. 13.


With the emergence of AI and the introduction of robots, our capacity to manage and control our destiny as humans is being called into question. How we draw upon this opportunity to expand our understanding of reality, of our world and more directly about ourselves will represent the next primary challenge. Artificial Intelligence may provide us with an opportunity to appreciate more fully who we are, and in this age of technological discovery and social uncertainty, how Judaism may actually hold a more profound and meaningful anchor within our lives. Questions remain as to its operational value and programmatic imprint in the near term within the Jewish world.

Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., is emeritus professor of Jewish communal studies at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles. He is currently co-editing a volume on 21stCentury American Judaism. His writings can be found on his website, www.thewindreport.com.

  1. https://analyticsindiamag.com/ten-famous-quotes-about-artificial-intelligence/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2023/01/25/its-time-for-ai-to-improve-nonprofit-performance/?sh=5a3075193954
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/power-ai-good-how-nonprofits-can-harness-technology-jones-mpa-edd/
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. https://e2btek.com/unlocking-the-power-of-ai-how-non-profits-lead-in-a-digital-era/
  9. https://www.jpost.com/business-and-innovation/article-732816
  10. https://networks.h-net.org/node/12416412/pdf
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17009695/
  12. https://jewishjournal.com/cover_story/356105/ethics-judaism-and-ai-can-chatgpt-strengthen-your-judaism/
  13. https://www.nonprofitpro.com/article/why-artificial-intelligence-doesnt-work-for-nonprofits-and-how-to-fix-this/