From Our Blog

A Special Spirit at the Summit

By Chip Edelsberg on March 2nd, 2016

As readers of this blog, you are likely aware that the Jim Joseph Foundation Board has selected Barry Finestone to be the Foundation’s President and CEO. I am excited for Barry; for the Foundation Board of Directors and staff; and for stakeholders in the excellence of Jewish education. In preparation for the transition, I took a number of steps to bolster the organizational structure of the Foundation. Most important among these moves is expanded management responsibilities for various professional personnel: in supervising and talent management for Assistant Director Dawne Bear Novicoff; in Foundation strategizing for Josh Miller, promoted to Program Director; in grantmaking responsibilities for Stacie Cherner, promoted to Senior Program Director; and Steven Green, whose relations with grantees in a ...More

A “Big Bet” Strategy: Large Grants for the Long-Term

By Chip Edelsberg on September 10th, 2015

The Jim Joseph Foundation is in its tenth year of existence. In a few weeks, we will share an online interactive timeline on the Foundation’s philanthropy, significant grantee outcomes, and lessons learned since its inception. The Foundation website will feature an insightful memoir on our founder thoughtfully crafted by Jim Joseph’s son and Foundation Board member, Josh Joseph. We will also share a microdocumentary on Mr. Joseph, his family history, and his lasting legacy. As we mark this tenth anniversary, the Foundation continues to be a work in progress. Striving for continuous improvement involves concentrated time and effort among Foundation Directors and professionals. The Board is conducting a search for my successor while also taking steps to plan for transition of ...More

Jewish Enrichment in Action: A First Hand Look at BBYO’s International Convention

By Renee Rubin Ross on March 6th, 2014

Several weeks ago, I spent a few days at BBYO’s International Convention (IC) in Dallas, Texas. As others have written, IC was an inspiring gathering of 1,800 Jewish teens, the largest recent gathering of Jewish teens on record.  For the Jim Joseph Foundation, it was an opportunity for a site visit to see the large scale of BBYO’s work and to observe a small gathering that took place the day before the Convention opened: the first-ever Jewish Enrichment Institute (JEI). Almost two years ago, Directors of the Foundation approved a grant of $1.9 Million for the Directors of Jewish Enrichment (DJE) Initiative, to enhance the quality of experiential Jewish education offered to teens involved with BBYO throughout North America. This ...More

Site Visits: A Chance to See Jewish Education in Action

By on September 29th, 2013

A “site visit” is just what the name implies—an opportunity to leave our climate-controlled downtown San Francisco offices and get into the action of the Jewish educational initiatives that we fund, whether they be schools, camps, teacher training projects, youth groups, or study groups. Site visits are inspiring—each is an opportunity to experience the power, energy, and hope that come across in the projects that we fund. I learned early on in my employment at the Foundation that a critical rule is to approach site visits with a feeling of humility. We visit organizations that we currently fund, are considering funding, or about which we want to learn more. Grantees or potential grantees clearly appreciate the opportunities that Foundation funding makes ...More

No Summer Break for Jewish Learning

By on July 8th, 2013

Summer is upon us.  For some, the season brings a reduced work load and a much needed respite from a demanding schedule.  But for literally thousands of beneficiaries of Jim Joseph Foundation funding support, these few summer months are suffused with the ruach of living in an immersive Jewish environment, intensive Jewish study, and powerful peer learning experiences. Most obvious to readers of this column is the fact that summer Jewish residential camping imbues youth and camp staff with Jewish memories that often last a life time.  In 2013, five Jim Joseph Foundation funded Jewish specialty camps will host an estimated 1400 campers guided by approximately 226 counselors.  These camps emerged out of a masterly crafted Foundation for Jewish Camp Specialty ...More

Jewish Education “in a Café, Under a Tree, or in a Dorm”

By on October 23rd, 2012

In some ways, newly hired educators Jordan Magidson, Jessica Shimberg, and Zac Johnson each fit the expected profile for a Jewish educator. Magidson, who started work as a Nadiv Educator at URJ Camp Kalsman and Temple de Hirsch Sinai, completed a Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Rabbi Shimberg, currently Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning at University of Maryland Hillel, received rabbinic ordination at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Johnson, currently a Director of Jewish Enrichment in BBYO’s Western regions, is an alumnus of the Shalom Hartman Institute and Yeshivat Hadar’s summer program. But these educators’ traditional credentials belie changes occurring in the training and hiring of experiential Jewish educators. Since evaluation has demonstrated the ...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.