Is Innovation a Driver in Jewish Engagement?

Innovation is the hot topic in the Jewish world these days and so there is no better time to point you to two articles from the current issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service.

On the Value and Values of Social Entrepreneurship by Yoni Gordis

Philanthropists play a key role in encouraging and supporting new developments that keep the Jewish community vibrant and relevant. Where they choose to focus their resources can make the difference between stasis and progress. Jewish communal debate in the past years has focused significantly on the role of Jewish philanthropists in funding new ideas and new organizations. To best understand the context in which the discussion is occurring, it is necessary to understand the unusual relationship of the Jewish community to the phenomena of innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Funding Innovation by Felicia Herman

…In recent years, and especially in the last decade, the Jewish community has witnessed what many have called a renaissance or revival of Jewish life, caused in large part by the creation of hundreds of new organizations devoted to adapting Jewish life to the demands of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This flowering of new organizations was caused both by an increase in available philanthropic support and the prevailing entrepreneurial zeitgeist.

Yet in a time of decreased resources and increased need, I fear that funding for these types of organizations will become more scare – in part because of their content (most focus on Jewish identity) and in part because they have not yet had the time to establish national brands.