Timely Resources to Meet the Moment

These resources are geared primarily toward educators and other professionals in the field to support their work and leadership during this challenging time.

Resources to facilitate conversations and prompt actions regarding race and equality are available from the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, The Jewish Education Project, Repair the World, Moishe House, Moving Traditions, Prizmah, and PJ Library.

With Summer in Mind:

  • The Jewish Service Alliance launched Serve the Moment to mobilize Jewish young adults and college students (ages 18-29) through a full-time stipended fellowship program from July 8th to August 7th. Nominate a changemaker in your community.
  • Hebrew at the Center offers a full menu of online resources for Hebrew teachers and leaders to specifically help prepare schools and the field for the continued uncertainty.
  • Hadar’s Executive Seminar, a virtual 4 day learning intensive from July 12-16, will cover “The Torah of Covid-19: Ancient Questions in a New Reality.” Hadar’s 3-part lecture series with Rabbi Tali Adler (July 13, 20, and 27) will cover Grief and Mourning in a Time of Tragedy
  • Moving Traditions is working with Jewish overnight and day camps to offer Heart to Heart: Teen Conversations for Summer 2020—a series of one-hour sessions for preteens and teens, drawn from Moving Traditions’ nationally recognized teen programs.
  • In partnership with BBYO, Hillels across the country are offering live, behind-the-scenes access to their schools.

For Teaching and Engaging Youth:

  • The Jewish Education Project’s new webcast, Adapting: The Future of Jewish Education with David Bryfman, hosts a different educator or education leader each week to explore what Jewish education is like today and what it may look like post-pandemic.
  • Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has a resource guide with tips and best practices for “Teaching in Relationship Online.”
  • The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative (FC) launched “Collective Compassion,” a new Jewish teen wellness website with resources for May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, with a particular focus on support during the pandemic. The FC also launched NewRealityResources.com to aggregate timely content and offerings for Jewish youth professionals and educators who work with Jewish teens.
  • The iCenter offers materials and links to live experiences to help educators continue Israel education.
  • The Jewish New Teacher Project has a list of free ed-tech resources for schools that have moved to online learning and ‘low-tech’ ideas for home learning.
  • Facing History and Ourselves has “readings and resources to start important conversations with your students about the coronavirus outbreak, and to explore questions about community, responsibility, decision-making and upstanding that are relevant in this moment.”
  • CASJE has curated a set of resources that look at how changes as a result of COVID-19 are testing education in a variety of settings, including K-12 schooling, after-school learning, early childhood education, and higher education.
  • The Jewish Education Project and Prizmah each offer webinar recordings and other resources for educators and leaders on communications, support systems, and online education and engagement.
  • Torrey Trust, Ph.D. at University of Massachusetts Amherst has a presentation available on “Teaching Remotely in Times of Need.”
  • Moving Traditions has a thoughtful “Blessing for B’nai Mitzvah Impacted by the Coronavirus.”

Leadership and Other General Resources:

  • Leading Edge has resources to help professionals at all career levels and in different positions approach “the challenges of work under quarantine, arranged by some questions we’ve been hearing a lot lately.”
  • JPRO offers new Masterclasses within its ongoing webinar series to address current issues facing professionals and their organizations.
  • Jewish Funders Network Resources Hub offers many helpful and timely resources by category.
  • Jewish Federations of North America offers webinar recordings and resources to help nonprofits navigate the loan application process through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • Board Member Institute for Jewish Nonprofits is hosting a number of webinars on board-related topics.
  • The Center for Creative Leadership has “Leadership Resources for Times of Crisis.”
  • BBYO and Hillel each launched comprehensive online platforms to help teens and college students, respectively, continue to engage in Jewish community and learning.


A New Road Map for the Foundation

The following letter introduced the Foundation’s new Road Map in the October 2019 edition of its newsletter, A Closer Look.

More than two years ago, the Foundation began a major process to examine our grantmaking strategies and desired outcomes. With that process complete, we are pleased to share a new Road Map detailing how the Foundation approaches and supports effective Jewish learning experiences that are meaningful and helpful to people throughout different inflection points in their lives. We invite you to view the Road Map in Talmud Daf format, which includes core assumptions, principles, long-term outcomes, and accompanying commentary. You’ll also see our new Logic Models that detail each strategic priority.

The Foundation’s mission—to foster compelling, effective Jewish learning experiences for young Jews—remains unchanged, as laser-focused as before. Yet, we recognize the need to take more risks, to identify more ways and places in which learning occurs, and to both lead and collaborate more to pursue this mission in today’s world. The Road Map shares a new aspiration, indicative of Jim Joseph’s, z”l, belief that Jewish learning can significantly influence a person’s whole self and her or his place in society. We want the Foundation’s philanthropic efforts in Jewish learning to inspire all Jews, their families, and their friends to lead connected, meaningful, and purpose-filled lives. Jewish learning should inspire them to make contributions to their communities and beyond.

We hope these new materials on the Foundation’s strategic approach are helpful to you and articulate how we approach our work today. Please let us know any questions and feedback you have.

Responding to Pittsburgh: Resources for Educators, Funders, and Parents

Like you, our Saturday morning was filled with shock and sadness. We are devastated by the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We join with others from around the world, from so many communities, mourning the victims and praying for the recovery of all who were affected. We continue to be in touch with our colleagues in Pittsburgh to learn how we can best offer support and help at this time. Below are a few resources from our various partners and colleagues that you may find helpful both professionally and personally.

Jewish Education: An Every Day Response to Hate

Like so many, we are angry, upset and concerned by the recent public demonstrations of anti-Semitism, racism, and hatred in this country. As a foundation devoted to Jewish education and Jewish life, the events in Charlottesville struck a particular nerve—especially knowing that our founder, Jim Joseph, z”l, came to the United States with his family as a young child to escape the rise of Nazism in Eastern Europe.

The recent displays of hatred and violence by white nationalists move us to take action, and to invite others to do the same. With the school year beginning, we see a clear opportunity to support educators to channel their students’ concerns about these events into essential lessons about tolerance and civil discourse and ways to respond to anti-Semitism. The Foundation currently is exploring investments that will help meet the surge in demand from educators across the country for the specific training and resources necessary to engage students in these critical learning experiences.

As we respond to these needs, grantee partners and the Foundation will continue our ongoing work supporting excellent Jewish education in its many forms. This work is designed in part to support youth to find meaning in Jewish tradition and to inspire them to create, and be a part of, a promising Jewish future. These efforts are not in response to any events. Rather, ongoing, compelling Jewish learning is a worthy pursuit in its own right and when it inspires and builds pride in Jewish teachings and values it also serves to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hate and injustice.

Together with our grantees, we strive to imbue these teachings and values in our youth and in our communities every day. Simply stated, we believe that education to this end accesses pride. Our ancient texts combined with the modern visions and diligent efforts of dedicated individuals and organizations provide powerful inspiration for this work. Here are some timely words and teachings shared by valued grantees:

A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.
– Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (shared by Sarah Lefton, BimBam)The formula is simple. Raise children with an understanding of how to treat each other and give them opportunities to practice throughout their lives. Teach them to welcome guests into their homes. Teach them to be brave. Teach them to say that they are sorry when they cause harm. Teach them to respect the earth and not squander its resources. Teach them to pursue peace. Teach them to make the world a better place.
– The Team at BimBam


Franz Rosenzweig in a 1920 essay translated as “Towards a Renaissance of Jewish Learning” (shared by Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, Shalom Hartman Institute):Readiness is the one thing we can offer to the Jewish individual within us, the individual we aim at. Only the first gentle push of the will – and “will” is almost too strong a word – that first quite gentle push we give ourselves when in the confusion of the world we once quietly say, “we Jews,” and by that expression commit ourselves for the first time to the eternal pledge that, according to an old saying, makes every Jew responsible for every other Jew.

…There is one recipe alone that can make a person Jewish and hence – because [she/he] is a Jew and destined to a Jewish life – a full human being: that recipe is to have no recipe, as I have just tried to show in, I feel, rather inadequate words. Our [sages] had a beautiful word for it that says everything: confidence.

Confidence is the word for a state of readiness that does not ask for recipes, and does not mouth perpetually, “What shall I do then,” and “How can I do that?” confidence is not afraid of the day after tomorrow. It lives in the present, it crosses recklessly the threshold leading from today into tomorrow…

Rosenzweig insists we do not mine the tradition conveniently to respond to particular political problems. We engage our tradition perpetually because it shapes us as political actors and as Jewish human beings – who then, in turn, are able to perform our responses to particular problems with a different kind of confidence.
– Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer

With these words as inspiration, we will continue our work with grantee partners to provide outstanding, meaningful Jewish experiences. In moments like these, philanthropy is in a unique position to deploy resources and influence to create change. And while these social issues are far too large and complicated for any one funder or organization to deeply impact alone, we learn from Rabbi Tarfon in Pirkei Avot that even knowing that we cannot complete the work, we are not free to desist from it. Each of us has an obligation to do our part, bringing our unique knowledge, expertise, and support to bear.

To all others who are feeling similarly stirred to action, we urge you to recognize the opportunity to act in the ways you know best, using your resources as you see fit. Let’s not let the immensity of these challenges paralyze us.

May we all go from strength to greater strength,

The Jim Joseph Foundation