Your Daily Phil: JNF-USA banks on Jewish Future Pledge + This tour group has already booked tickets to Israel
Good Wednesday morning!
Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) is spreading the word among its supporters about the Jewish Future Pledge — a commitment to bequeath 50% or more of their charitable assets to Jewish causes. “Donations to the Jewish community strengthen all of us,” JNF-USA CEO Russell Robinson told eJewishPhilanthropy. “Givers give.”
The organization is targeting a number of individuals for outreach on the pledge: all 48 members of its national board of directors, donors between the ages of 22 and 40 who have given at least $1,000 and those who have already committed to recognizing JNF-USA in their wills, Robinson said.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, has created a new online exhibit “Suiting the Sound: The Rodeo Tailors Who Made Country Stars Shine Brighter,” which tells the story of the Jewish immigrant tailors such as “Rodeo Ben” Lichtenstein who created the “rhinestone cowboy” look and still influence country fashion today.
The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, a grant-making group supported by the Klarman Family Foundation in Boston and seeded by Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, is launching a contest that will award up to $500,000 in grants to innovative, grassroots organizations. Upswing granted $10.8 million to 88 mental health nonprofits last month.
This Israel tour group has bought its tickets
Israel announced yesterday that it will be allowing groups of vaccinated foreigners to enter the country again beginning in late May, giving hope to would-be tourists who have waited for the last year for the country to reopen its borders. But with the announcement has come uncertainty, as tour organizers remain largely in the dark about the logistics of the country’s planned reopening. One group — RZA-Mizrachi, a religious Zionist organization, is ready to go — plane tickets bought, lodging reserved and an itinerary set for what the group is calling a “solidarity mission,” Rabbi Ari Rockoff, its executive vice president, told eJewishPhilanthropy.
Details to come: The Israel Travel Alliance, which includes BirthrightIsrael, dozens of other trip providers and 10 foundations, said it wasn’t able yet to answer questions about how the planned opening will work in practice, or whether it means its members will actually be able to offer their trips. “A detailed outline will be released in the coming days,” the Jewish Federations of North America, operator of the alliance, said in a statement. Israel will require travelers to undergo a rapid-response test for the coronavirus before getting on the plane, and a blood draw upon arrival to prove that they have been vaccinated.
Beyond the bucket list: Once Israel and other countries have agreed on how to use certificates to validate vaccination, the blood test will no longer be necessary, according to a statement from the health and tourism ministries. RZA-Mizrachi was originally planning a trip for next winter, but the board decided they didn’t want to wait that long, said Rockoff, who is based in West Hempstead, Long Island. “We’re hoping to spark our community to see beyond the pandemic,” he said of the trip, scheduled for May 26-31. “Going to Florida and Cancun, those should be on the bucket list, but Israel is our homeland and we should be checking back in.”
Habitual burnout in communal professionals
“I am very worried that we will see an exodus from Jewish communal life over the next 18 months. I have heard rabbis talking about leaving the field; educators saying they can’t imagine what comes next,” writes Dr. Betsy Stone in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
The value of time: “These professionals, from the executive staff to the maintenance staff, need care from us right now. Not simply a thank you, although that might help in the short run. They need time. Every one of them needs time to recover.”
Recognizing need: “It seems clear to me that NOW is the time for lay leadership to reverse the flow of caring from our communal professionals back to them. Even if they do not yet recognize their needs, we need to.”
the high cost of school
Buying down day school tuition for the Jewish future
“As rising costs of Jewish day schools are outpacing inflation and tuition becomes financially prohibitive, exciting programs are being initiated to help make day schools more affordable,” writes Deanne Weiss Etsekson in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Block grants: “The concept of buying down tuition is not new. In 1994, the Samis Foundation in Seattle was created by Sam Israel z”l with a primary mission of supporting Jewish K-12 education in Washington State. Foundation trustees did extensive research and commissioned studies into maximizing Foundation dollars to benefit local day schools. Within a year, led by several visionary trustees, the Foundation initiated a bold measure to buy down tuition at the then only Jewish high school in Washington State, Northwest Yeshiva High School (NYHS).”
Outcomes: “Students graduating from both the Orthodox and the community Jewish middle schools continued their day school education into high school at a much higher rate than they had before. The number of non-Orthodox graduates from the Orthodox middle school who continued on to high school increased from 19% to 50%. Teens who would have gone to public schools came to NYHS in high numbers. NYHS was the rare Orthodox high school with a denominationally diverse student body.”
Religious Identity: Faith remains a high-profile part of the nonprofit landscape, even as religious affiliation and membership decline nationally, writes Melissa Spas in Insights Newsletter, published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. All nonprofits are struggling during the pandemic, with almost three-fourths reporting reduced fundraising contributions and 40% reporting increased costs. Faith-based charities, however, have an advantage in their clarity of mission: “Organizations do the work that they do in order to be responsive to the teaching, values, and commitments of religious faith, and individual contributors make that religious connection as well, in their roles as staff, donors, or volunteers committed to the mission of the organization.” [Insights]
Nimble Move: In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Emily Haynes takes a look at the latest frontier of fundraising — TikTok, the social media platform known for spawning silly, viral dance videos among its young user base. It offers nonprofits an advantage, however: Unlike Facebook and Instagram, TikTok gives donors the option to share their contact information, which gives charities more people to contact with future appeals. “That audience knows good people can unite and come together over something,” said media strategist Nathalie Ormrod. “That’s a huge opportunity for the nonprofit.” [ChroniclePhilanthropy]
Unsolicited Gift: In Slate, Molly Olmstead interviews Donna Brown, president of Turtle Mountain Community College, a tribal school in Belcourt, N.D., about receiving a surprise $8 million gift from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Brown said that the school is using part of the money to create a master’s program in education, and that Scott wants grantees to use her gifts to fulfill their missions, but doesn’t have any other goals: “I happened to be driving at the time. I almost had to pull over the side of the road. My jaw dropped. The most we’d received prior to this was $300,000. I didn’t know if it was real.” [Slate]
Art Portfolio: The Joan Mitchell Foundation, endowed by the abstract expressionists and printmaker who died in 1992, is trying to shift the mindset of arts philanthropy from “award to investment,” reports Mike Scutari in Inside Philanthropy. The foundation recently announced a new fellowship, named for the artist, that will annually award 15 painters or sculptors $60,000 in unrestricted funds, to be distributed over five years. “[Artists] are telling us the pandemic has created a context, and the time, to begin to consider questions and intentions for their legacy,” said Kay Takeda, the foundation’s deputy director of artist programs. “There is a need for broader advocacy, education and investment in artist legacy planning, which requires collaboration and an expanding network.” [InsidePhilanthropy]
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Word on the Street
Rabbi Joy Levitt announced plans to retire as CEO of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in December… Elana Rivel has been named CEO of Jewish Learning Venture effective September 1… Australian-Israeli communal leader Isi Leibler, who played a central role in the NYSAG investigation of the World Jewish Congress, died at age 86… Citing a new legal opinion, a group of KKL-JNF board members are demanding a stop to West Bank land purchases… The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities is set to have its first paid chief executive in its 22-year history following an agreement with the Board of Deputies… “Homanity,” a compilation album of dissident Iranian artists organized by Marjan Greenblatt, will be released next month…
Pic of the Day
Today Israel is celebrating Yom HaZikaron, which honors fallen members of the military, as depicted in this ceremony from the mid-1960s, in the city of Lod. Since last year, 43 new deaths have been recorded among defense troops, and 69 veterans died due to injuries sustained during their service. The total number of fallen soldiers and civilian victims of wars and terrorism dead is now 23,928.
Professional makeup artist and the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown…
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