Peoplehood Papers 27: Philanthropy and Jewish Peoplehood

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 27 – “Philanthropy and Jewish Peoplehood” – published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.]

From the Editor:

In 2012 the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education published Peoplehood Papers 7 on Reinvigorating Jewish Peoplehood – the Philanthropic Perspective. We decided, together with Taube Philanthropies and the Jewish Funders Network, that in 2020 it may be worth turning the topic on its head and dedicating an issue to the topic of Reinvigorating Jewish Philanthropy – the Peoplehood Perspective. In other words, we wanted to explore the impact of the growing awareness to Peoplehood and its challenges on Jewish Philanthropy.

In the decade that transpired since our previous publication on this topic, Peoplehood became a common concept in the Jewish professional jargon and a cornerstone in framing the Jewish conceptual and practical conversation on Jewish identity and the Jewish collective enterprise. We were partly inspired to initiate this publication by an article recently published by Tad Taube and Shana Penn (see below), that highlights the way Peoplehood framed their philanthropic approach. We wanted to expand that conversation and explore how framing through a Peoplehood perspective can enrich and strengthen our philanthropic work, both in terms of its overall context as well as the nature of collaboration with the other players in the field.

In general, some of the topics we were interested in pursuing were:

  • What makes Jewish Philanthropy unique?
  • How does it connect conceptually to Jewish Peoplehood?
  • How does embracing a peoplehood perspective influence our specific vision and mode of operation? What does it entail in terms of our relationship with other Jewish philanthropies and with communal bodies, like Federations or national agencies?
  • What are the key challenges the Jewish people is facing today and how do they impact our specific work?
  • What are some possible responses to today’s challenges?
  • How can philanthropy (which is becoming mostly an individual activity rather than a communal one) be a way of strengthening a sense of peoplehood? in that sense what is the interplay between individual and collective in philanthropy – and in the Jewish Community writ large?
  • What is philanthropy’s role in ensuring the cohesion of the Jewish People and even in defining what the Jewish People is.
  • What are the issues/factors that threaten the strength of the peoplehood and how can philanthropy address them?

This publication does not attempt to exhaust the subject but rather to begin exploring the relationship between Peoplehood and Philanthropy. We recruited a diverse group of writers representing both individual and collective philanthropies. Some are veterans in the field and others bring a younger voice to the table. Ultimately, the Jewish people in the 21st century is still wrestling with the challenges of modernity. What will the Jewish community look like locally and what will our Jewish collectivity mean globally? We believe that Philanthropy can play a key role in envisioning and shaping the Jewish future. We hope that this diverse collection of essays will indeed advance this conversation.

Special thanks to Taube Philanthropies for co-initiating this publication and funding it. To Andres Spokoiny for helping shape the questions of the call for papers. To Sharon Dwek, from JFN Israel, for helping recruit the writers on the Israeli side. To all the thoughtful writers who contributed to this conversation. We decided to lead with Andres Spokoiny’s article in order to frame some of the questions and challenges to be addressed. The rest of the articles appear in the alphabetic order of their writers’ names. We hope they will enrich your deliberations and thinking about the Jewish future.

Shlomi Ravid, Editor

Table of Contents

How Philanthropy Can Strengthen Peoplehood in Polarized Times (Andrés Spokoiny)

The Power of Small Acts of Chessed (Haim Emil Dahan)

Philanthropy as a Vehicle for Peoplehood (Elizabeth Fisher)

Where Personhood, Peoplehood, and Philanthropy Meet (Gideon Herscher)

You, Me and Us at our Passover Table (Michael Lawrence)

Calibrating the Collective (Arie Levy)

Philanthropy and Peoplehood – Giving with Jewish Wisdom (Seth Linden)

The Global Jewish Philanthropic Collective Where Next? (David Mallach)

More and Less: Jewish Peoplehood, Jewish Philanthropy (Reuven Marko)

Philanthropy the Bridge to Future Peoplehood (Shlomi Ravid)

Adapting Jewish Peoplehood to Jewish Equity (Charlene Seidle)

Jewish Peoplehood and Jewish Philanthropy: Opportunities for New Partnerships (Jeffrey Solomon and Alon Friedman)

Todays Challenges Demand a More Collaborative Jewish Philanthropy (Tad Taube and Shana Penn)

eJewish Philanthropy is the exclusive digital publisher of the individual Peoplehood Papers essays.