From Our Blog

The Rich Landscape of Summer Jewish Learning

By Chip Edelsberg on August 14th, 2015

Last month, I shared reflections on our special Board Meeting in Israel to mark the Foundation’s ten year anniversary. Next month I will offer some thoughts on transitions occurring at the Foundation as we welcome in the new year. Bookended by these two substantial themes, one might think the August blog would be a “light read.” Thankfully, that’s not the case, primarily because of intensive work that Jim Joseph Foundation grantees do during critical summer months. I am heartened by the thoughtful ways Jewish education organizations utilize this time of year, recognizing the special learning opportunities summer presents for youth, for young adults, and for educators. In fact, summer is an ideal time for “teachers to become students.” Pardes held ...More

What We Learned During Our Time in Israel

By Professional Team on August 14th, 2015

Editor’s Note: As we shared previously, the Jim Joseph Foundation Board and professional team traveled to Israel earlier this summer for a week of special immersion activities and our regular quarterly board meeting. Conducting a Board meeting in Israel was part of the Foundation’s ten-year anniversary and an important opportunity for the Foundation to pay respect to Jim Joseph, z”l. Upon returning, each member of the professional team was asked to share reflections on their time in Israel and visits with grantees. Sharing excerpts with you, we believe, offers insights to the field about the place of Israel in the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy; the knowledge gained from site visits; and the benefits of Board and staff engaging in ...More

Making Jewish My Own: Gleanings from Reboot

By Robin Kramer and Amelia Klein on July 27th, 2015

Editor's Note: The Jim Joseph Foundation has awarded three grants to Reboot totaling up to $6,547,490 beginning in 2008. The following guest blog from Reboot's Robin Kramer and Amelia Klein ran originally in eJewishPhilanthropy

"Reboot showed me that if community wasn’t there then the best thing to do was to get up and make it happen."

This is the sentiment of a Rebooter, a member of the network launched by Reboot, the young nonprofit now just past its bar/bat mitzvah year. Reboot affirms the value of Jewish traditions and creates new ways for people to make them their own, principally through the doors of creative culture. Inspired by Jewish ritual and embracing the arts, humor, food, philosophy, and social justice, ...More

Israel and Philanthropic Inspiration

By Chip Edelsberg on July 8th, 2015

"Israel" Say the word in a gathering of almost any diverse group of Jews, and the room divides. “Israel" Write the word for almost any Jewish audience of readers—as I have done here—and expect that each individual immediately conjures up a passel of highly personalized associations and passionate opinions about political matters. Proceed with caution and make no assumptions as an author that there is agreement on what Israel means to your readers. That in mind, the Jim Joseph Foundation Board of Directors and professional staff recently returned from a week in Israel that included special immersion activities and our regular quarterly board meeting. Israel embraced us with her people and landscapes, language and culture. For whatever differences of opinions exist among the Directors ...More

“Jumping” Right in at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Aaron Saxe on June 29th, 2015

The mission of the Jim Joseph Foundation—to foster compelling, effective Jewish learning experiences for young Jews—has been a central theme of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up influenced by dozens of Jewish educators in a variety of settings including Sunday and Hebrew school, youth groups, day camps, and group travel to Israel. I spent most of my childhood summers at Jewish overnight camp, deepening my connection to Judaism and building lifelong friendships. And, I engaged deeply in Jewish life in college and after graduation. Professionally, I spent three years as Program Director at Camp Alonim in Simi Valley, CA, and most recently worked at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco ...More

Reflections from Sandy Edwards, Jim Joseph Foundation Associate Director

By Sandy Edwards on June 18th, 2015

Editor's Note: Later this month, Foundation Associate Director Sandy Edwards will leave the position she has held since 2006. She will remain involved in Jewish education and philanthropy through consulting and volunteering efforts. Below are reflections from Sandy on her time at the Jim Joseph Foundation working with grantees, other funders, and stakeholders in the field. Ten years can at once seem like a long time and go by in an instant. As I reflect back on my ten years at the Jim Joseph Foundation, I am flooded with memories about where the Foundation and the field were in 2005—and where we now are today. When I joined the Foundation, nothing was in place. No infrastructure for disbursing grants. No methods for ...More

A Special Meeting for the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Chip Edelsberg on June 5th, 2015

Later this month, the Jim Joseph Foundation Board of Directors and Professional team will hold a special Board Meeting in Israel. The Foundation last held a Board meeting there in 2009, and Directors have elected to conduct another meeting in Israel as part of the Foundation’s ten-year anniversary. This is an important opportunity for the Foundation to pay respect to Jim Joseph, z”l, and to visit with grantees in affirming the prominent place of Israel in the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy. Jim Joseph passed away suddenly in December, 2003. He had a deep connection to Israel and, as he desired, his family buried him there. A year and a half later, the Foundation as it is structured today was formed. One of ...More

A 5-Point Plan to Build Your Local Engager Network

By Dan Fast and Adam Pollack on May 26th, 2015

Since 2012, we have witnessed the growth of local networks for Jewish engagement professionals – “engagers” who are responsible for Jewish millennial engagement and programming – in cities across the country, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Philadelphia, and more. These networks serve as local engager hubs, complementing a national network such as the NEXTwork. They also uniquely further engagement efforts by:

  • Increasing trust, mutual respect, and transparency among local engagers;
  • Accelerating knowledge, skill-sharing, collaborations, and connectional intelligence – a term coined by business/leadership consultants Erica Dhawan and Saj-nicole Joni that emphasizes “driving innovation and breakthrough results by harnessing the power of [our] relationships and networks”;
  • Diving deep into the nuances and needs of Jewish millennials and engagement issues; ...More

It Takes a Strong Field to Make a Stronger Field

By Chip Edelsberg on May 6th, 2015

One of the Jim Joseph Foundation’s three strategic funding priorities is to build the field of Jewish education. But what does this actually mean? What actions does the Foundation take to work towards this goal? With these questions in mind, I took stock recently of how the Foundation’s field building efforts have manifested themselves. What’s especially noteworthy is how a strong field has helped Jewish education continue to evolve; how offerings both for educators and learners continue to expand; and how a strong field increases the power and strength of networks. The Foundation’s field building efforts take on various forms. In certain instances, we utilize the Foundation’s robust program of evaluation to share valuable learnings that we hope benefit the field. ...More

Helpful Insights From a Working Funder Collaborative

By Ellen Irie - Informing Change, Reuben Posner - Combined Jewish Philanthropies Boston on May 6th, 2015

Recently, a group of 15 different organizations (15!) released a case study –Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads the Way – detailing the two-years they’ve spent working together, learning about and investing in Jewish teen education and engagement initiatives. There are a litany of insights and interesting lessons to pull from the study, which we believe are beneficial to organizations well beyond the Jewish teen education and engagement arena (and even beyond the Jewish education arena). In fact, funders in all philanthropic sectors are increasingly pooling or coordinating funding for greater impact, or to address particularly challenging social and environmental problems. Because of this trend in collaborative efforts, we – one of ...More

The Jim Joseph Foundation invests in promising Jewish education grant initiatives. We partner with effective organizations that seek to inspire young people to discover the joy of living vibrant Jewish lives.