From Our Blog

A Taste of the Real World: Lessons Learned from a Community Internship Program for Teens

By Shira Rosenblatt and Stacie Cherner on January 3rd, 2017

The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative invests, with local funders, in new approaches to Jewish teen learning and growth in ten communities around the country. One strategic element of this endeavor is that each community builds an approach to teen education and engagement custom made for teens in their community. Often, the local partners in the Collaborative work closely with other local organizations to create and run these initiatives and programs. In Los Angeles, the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles partnered to create the multi-faceted Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative (LAJTI), which unifies the geographic and denominational diversity of LA to engage teens, empower educators, provide resources ...More


By Barry Finestone on December 22nd, 2016

That seems like the perfect title for this first blog. As I continue to settle into my role as President and CEO at the Jim Joseph Foundation, I feel welcomed by my colleagues, the Foundation Board, and so many of you who have sent congratulatory notes over the last month. For this, I want to express sincere thanks. I have, first and foremost, a deep sense of responsibility—to the Foundation’s grantees, Board, my colleagues, peer funders, and other individuals with whom we interact. Jim Joseph, z”l, left an indelible gift. Working inside (and often outside) these walls is an ongoing reminder of how fortunate we are to carry out the vision that Jim so clearly outlined.  As 2017 approaches, the Foundation continues ...More

Any Given Sunday: San Diego’s Jewish Teen Service Summit

By Jeff Tiell on December 7th, 2016

On a Sunday earlier this month, I witnessed the burgeoning future of Jewish teen education in San Diego. As part of the new Motiv Initiative–the Jewish Teen Initiative in San Diego supported by the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, the Lawrence Family JCC, Jacobs Family Campus, and the Jim Joseph Foundation—hundreds of teens came to learn about, and to do, service at its first Teen Service Summit. The Summit, which was well attended and filled with opportunities to engage in and to create meaningful Jewish service experiences, offers a brief case study of sorts for effective teen engagement. First, a number of workshops throughout the day led by charismatic and passionate adults addressed everything from Passion to Profit: Social ...More

From the Seminar to the Workplace: Programs That Promote Workforce Outcomes

By Yael Kidron and Ariela Greenberg on November 11th, 2016

Editor's Note: In October, the Jim Joseph Foundation released the final evaluation from American Institutes for Research on the Education Initiative--the $45 million, six year investment in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU) for Jewish educator training. The Foundation and AIR shared some of the key findings and lessons learned from the Initiative. AIR also is releasing a series of blogs that delve more deeply into important findings from the evaluation--the first of which, below, discusses programs that promote workforce outcomes. Operating successful educational programs requires continually evolving skills and knowledge. With the constant growth of educational research on effective strategies to promote student engagement, motivation, and learning ...More

Reflections on a Big Bet: The Education Initiative with HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU  

By Yael Kidron and Dawne Bear Novicoff on November 9th, 2016

When the Jim Joseph Foundation was founded in 2006, board members and other leaders in Jewish education held a series of meetings to determine a set of “strategic funding priorities.” While the foundation’s generous benefactor, Jim Joseph, z”l, ensured that Jewish education would be the sole focus of grant awards, he did not specify how the Foundation should pursue his vision. Ultimately, the Board identified three funding priorities, one of which is to increase the number and quality of Jewish educators and education leaders. This priority paved the way for the largest bet the Foundation has made to date—the recently completed $45 million, six year investment in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), The Jewish Theological Seminary ...More

A Reform Camper in Hevruta Study

By Aaron Saxe on October 24th, 2016

I bet my parents are not surprised that I work for a Jewish organization. How could they be? After all, I have been an active member of the Jewish community from my earliest days. Attending Congregational School, spending summer after summer at Jewish day and overnight camp, starring as Joseph in my synagogue’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (I couldn’t resist throwing this one in here), participating in youth group, spending time in Israel, and most recently, working at the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation. Being Jewish has always been an important part of who I am. Yet, reflecting back on these experiences, I note that my participation in Jewish life has never come in the way ...More

Series of Final Reflections as Executive Director: Why Effective Philanthropy Requires Trust

By Chip Edelsberg on October 7th, 2016

In this, my penultimate blog as Executive Director for the Jim Joseph Foundation (read the first blog in this series here), I revisit a theme I have discussed numerous times in the past decade. For years, I have asserted that foundation personnel who conduct their business as transactions of authority and power—as opposed to a series of ongoing interactions in pursuit of partnerships to make enduring changes in the world—fail to optimize the potential of contemporary Jewish philanthropy. From both a professional grantmaking and Jewish values perspective, relational philanthropy that cultivates funder-grantee trust is an asset tangibly benefiting both participants.  The ultimate good, of course, redounds to beneficiaries of high performing Jewish 501c3 organizations and the righteous work they ...More

Collaboration and Commitment on Display at Repair the World’s Service Matters

By Dawne Bear Novicoff and Jeff Tiell on October 7th, 2016

In mid-September, we attended Service Matters: A Summit on Jewish Service hosted by Repair the World. We were there with more than 200 participants and 35 organizational partners committed to elevating the place of volunteer service in American Jewish life. What an opportunity to see first-hand the evolution and growth of a field. Numerous observations from that day offer insights about educating and engaging young Jewish adults, how a field develops, and why Jewish service continues to offer such potential. Jewish Service Unleashes Energy and Excitement One of the high level observations and takeaways from the day was the particularly large number of people in their early to mid-20s who participated. Certainly at the Jim Joseph Foundation, we know ...More

Series of Final Reflections as Executive Director: A Concentrated Set of Priority Grants

By Chip Edelsberg on September 7th, 2016

One of the many privileges of having served as Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation has been ample opportunity to contribute to the field of Jewish education. In personal conversations; at convenings, forums and conferences; through the Foundation’s website and on this blog; and in various publications, I have shared information on lessons learned by the Foundation through its $436 million of philanthropic investments. I have also opined on trends in the broader fields of education and philanthropy, all in an effort to advance the field about which the Foundation and readers of this blog care so deeply. Over the next two months, as I step down from the position in which I have been privileged to serve, I want ...More

Seeing is Believing: Moishe House Ignite Retreat

By Rachel Halevi on September 1st, 2016

Growing up in a Jewish home, engaging with various Jewish organizations, living in Israel, and working at a Jewish foundation have allowed me to feel connected to Judaism and the Jewish Community. Participating in the Moishe House Ignite Retreat, a retreat designed to gather, connect, and develop Jewish young adult leaders, challenged this sense of connection and reignited my passion for Judaism and the work I do every day as a staff member of the Jim Joseph Foundation. Some of my fondest memories as a young Jew were Shabbat services at URJ Camp Newman, so I was excited to participate in a Shabbat celebration as one of the first activities of the retreat.  To my surprise, I did not ...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.