From Our Blog

“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

When Jewish personal and professional lives intersect

By Nicole Levy on May 4th, 2015

Last week marked six months since I was hired as an Administrative Assistant at the Jim Joseph Foundation. I thoroughly enjoy my work, which, as I expected, is rewarding. What I didn’t anticipate, however, is how my engagement in Jewish life professionally would lead to new opportunities for engagement and Jewish learning in my personal life. My journey is probably similar to many other young professionals at various Jewish organizations. I was raised in a Jewish-secular household. My parents, both raised in Israel, are not religiously observant but provided me with an upbringing rich with Jewish culture, pride, and values. I moved to San Francisco after graduating college. While being very happy in the Bay Area, after a couple of years I ...More

To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn: A Time of Change at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Chip Edelsberg on April 14th, 2015

I hope you enjoyed a meaningful Pesach with family and friends. In this month’s blog, I want to share with you several significant personnel changes at the Foundation. Sandy Edwards, the Foundation’s Associate Director since 2006, will step down in June of this year. After I was named Executive Director, Sandy was the first person I brought on board as I built the Foundation’s professional team. If you have had the privilege to work with Sandy, you are well aware of her life-long commitment to Jewish education; her understanding of multiple ways to assess Jewish learning; and her strong desire to share best practices. Many of the Foundation’s standard operating procedures regarding its evaluation program and model documentation were conceptualized ...More

My First Pesach at the Jim Joseph Foundation: Reflections from a Program Associate

By Jeff Tiell on April 13th, 2015

For all Jews worldwide, it recently was Pesach. What did it mean to you? To me, every year, it means reflection on two questions emanating from the same root: Am I free and Are we free? The “we” meaning my family, my friends, my communities (Jewish and otherwise), my city, our society, our world. These questions could be unpacked in a host of different ways, discussed, argued, and contested. After all, that’s the point right? For me, these questions held special significance this Pesach because I asked them as a recent hire of the Jim Joseph Foundation. At the end of January I began my job as Program Associate at the Foundation. The Program Associate role is a new one for ...More

Creating 21st Century Jewish Experiences: A Look Back at the 2015 Council of American Jewish Museums Annual Conference

By Lori Starr - Executive Director of The Contemporary Jewish Museum - San Francisco on April 9th, 2015

From March 8 – 10, 2015, The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) was delighted to host the 2015 Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) Annual Conference. Over 250 delegates convened at The CJM, as well as the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley, for animated discussions revolving around the conference’s theme: “Open Source:  Jewish Museums and Collaborative Culture.” Inspired by the Bay Area’s status as a national symbol and a harbinger of the future, the conference explored how California’s experiments in the social, cultural, political, and economic realms can inform Jewish museum practices. [caption id="attachment_5144" align="alignright" width="300"]...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.