From Our Blog

An eventful year draws to a close

By Chip Edelsberg on December 9th, 2014

The end of the year is upon us – again! It is busier at the Foundation than at any other time during the year. Both our annual and final regularly scheduled Board meetings of 2014 just concluded. We have considerable follow-up business to conduct. We gratefully have numerous major grant payments to make in December, requiring careful review of progress reports submitted by grantees, along with our regular conversations with them. The Board continues its active search for new Directors. Planning for a March, 2015 Board Retreat is intensifying. Preparation for the February 7/8 Board meeting has already begun. Employee performance reviews are underway, even while we continue to focus on successfully integrating two recently hired employees, Program Officer Stacie ...More

Only One Chance to Make a First Impression – Reflections of a new Program Officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation

By Stacie Cherner on November 26th, 2014

The quality of one’s education often is a key determinant to a successful and fulfilling life. This is true of general education as well as Jewish education. My entire career has been focused on improving the quality of education in order to improve the quality of life for children and families. There are many approaches that have been tried in the realm of general education: from improving access to pre-K for young children; to making sure families have access to the basics of healthcare, dental care, and good nutrition; to preventing teen pregnancy; to recruiting and training good teachers; to helping school systems use data to make better decisions; and many more. Evaluating these approaches and ideas is integral to learning what ...More

Mindful Moments in a Multitasking World

By Chip Edelsberg on November 6th, 2014

This column represents a departure from my normal updates on some aspect of Jim Joseph Foundation philanthropy. What follows is a reflection of a phenomenon that has become part and parcel of everyday life, in both our personal and professional routines. Of late, I have read a spate of commentaries and studies on the effects of multitasking. Pervasive social media and its instant accessibility mean that individuals can simultaneously engage with multiple channels of meaning. (In drafting the first paragraph of this update, for example, I listened to Pandora while concurrently checking my iPad for early morning email and occasionally stealing a glance at a desktop screen). The immediacy and ubiquitousness of technology will unquestionably accelerate. Some assert that “…not only are ...More

Shared Measurement Tools for Jewish Education: Could It Happen?

By Josh Miller on October 14th, 2014

Within Jewish tradition, an appreciation for the importance of shared measurement tools dates back to biblical times. In Deuteronomy 25:15 the Torah teaches: “a perfect and honest measure shall you have, so that your days shall be lengthened on the land…” There are many reasons why it is valuable to have and to honor our universal systems for measurement. These fundamental tools enable us to describe what we observe, compare like items, and draw conclusions from these comparisons. And yet, despite the implicit value of shared measures, the process of developing such tools is not always simple. The Challenge of Establishing Shared Measurement in Jewish Education In the field of Jewish education, establishing universal measures to assess learning outcomes is particularly challenging. Within ...More

What Does Shmita Mean for a Jewish Foundation?

By Chip Edelsberg on October 14th, 2014

In Jewish life, 5775 is a “Sabbath of Sabbaths” – a shmita year. Guided by passages in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, we are enjoined to act in ways that manifest generosity (sharing the bounty of the food we may grow) and forgiveness (of debt). Shmita is arguably about equity. Its practice provides those who are economically disenfranchised access to life sustenance (literally, food). It is a reprieve from debt for those who have been pushed to the margins of society. Fundamentally, shmita asks us as Jews to guard against depersonalizing our communal connection. We are encouraged to reflect on any ways in which we might have segregated ourselves from meaningful relationships, both to earthly sources of bounty and to the wide scope ...More

In Our Backyard: Israel Education Flourishing in the Bay Area

By Dawne Bear Novicoff on September 19th, 2014

As a mother of two school-aged children, a Jewish foundation professional working in the area of Israel Education, and lover of Israel, this summer’s situation in Israel created many reasons to worry. I worried for friends and family, soldiers and citizens, and victims on all sides. I worried for college students and Hillel professionals preparing to re-populate college campuses across the country. I also worried for my kids—born and raised in San Francisco—who have not yet visited Israel and clearly found the events confusing and scary. Judaic Studies Principal Dan Finkel’s guest blog earlier this month shared how his Bay Area day school—a member of the Jewish LearningWorks BASIS Israel Education Day School Project—is supporting educators to ...More

Reflections on Israel Education as 5775 Approaches

By Chip Edelsberg on September 2nd, 2014

With Rosh Chodesh Elul upon us and the High Holidays approaching, the Jim Joseph Foundation is preparing for the 40th meeting of its Board of Directors. The Foundation will devote the very first part of its two days of deliberations to discussing how the Foundation might respond, philanthropically, in the aftermath of the war in the Middle East – amid concerns about surging expressions of conspicuous anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment. In anticipation of this upcoming Board discussion, the Foundation’s professional team took stock of the Foundation’s current funding of Israel education and Israel education-related programs and projects. The Birthright Israel Foundation is the beneficiary of $31M of Jim Joseph Foundation funding. Brandeis University’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies has received $1.8M ...More

Continuing to Contemplate the Future

By Chip Edelsberg on August 4th, 2014

At a time such as this, it is difficult for me to write about a topic other than the current matsav in Israel. A highly respected colleague of mine noted recently in a conference call with some 15 participants that while Jewish professionals in this moment feel self-conscious about diverting any attention from what is happening in the Middle East, we are collectively committed—and obligated—to help build a safe, secure, vibrant Jewish future. So I avert my eyes here to affirm that commitment and to focus on the future. A 2014 report by the Institute for the Future points to research identifying five critical disruptive forces shaping the future of philanthropy. A couple of these—crowdpower and radical transparency—are already fairly ...More

Better Teacher Training and Support Creates Better Teachers

By Renee Rubin Ross on July 21st, 2014

Through the Jim Joseph Foundation’s investments in Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC), The Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University, the Day School Leadership for Teaching (DeLeT) program, and the Jewish New Teacher Project, the Foundation has invested millions of dollars in educator training and support. The rationale behind this is straight forward: more well-trained and supported teachers and educators will lead to more effective and compelling learning experiences for young Jews, the central goal of the Foundation. Strengthening teacher training and support has a number of elements, as two presentations at last month’s annual conference of the Network for Research in Jewish Education (NJRE) suggest. One element is continually evaluating the quality and effectiveness of the programs designed to ...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.