What Does “Jewish Philanthropy” Mean for the Next Generation of Jewish Leaders?

Cross-posted on the Global Circle blog.

I enjoyed reading Sandy Cardin’s piece in eJewishPhilanthropy about the future of Jewish giving. Cardin notes that, historically, philanthropy has been associated with giving away money. Younger generations, however, want to expand the definition to include the giving of time, energy and passion. Cardin writes: “Jews are among those at the nerve center of this growing movement of young people who do not just want to pay to build the trenches – they actually want to work in them.” He argues that this is a good thing; that Jewish institutions must adapt and respond to this demand; that the future of Jewish philanthropy should include the giving of time and money – “the best of both worlds.”

As part of the next generation of philanthropists, I certainly agree with Cardin’s desire to expand the definition of philanthropy. But for me, it raises a very complex question: If the rules of Jewish philanthropy become more fluid and more flexible, what will act as the core identifier that binds a group of Jewish philanthropists together? How flexible can we be in our definition of Jewish philanthropy before the concept ceases to exist?

I have been on a very complicated journey of exploring my own Jewish identity and what it means for me to be a Jewish philanthropist. I want to be engaged in giving through both time and money. I want to be appreciated for the different talents and ideas I bring to the Jewish community, and I want to be respected for the ways in which I relate to Jewish identity individually. As someone who does not keep kosher and does not go to synagogue, but believes in and lives by the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, I fight for an inclusive community in which Jews can identify as such in a way that makes sense for them individually. But there’s a persistent little voice in the back of my head that always asks: How will Jews survive as a cohesive group if everyone is relating to the identity in his or her own different way? How far can we stretch the idea of Jewish identity before it is no longer a meaningful collective identity?

Melanie Goldberg is an intern at AJWS and is currently working towards a Master of Social Work at Yeshiva University. When she is not learning about social change efforts, she enjoys going to the theater and spending time with the elderly.

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One Response to What Does “Jewish Philanthropy” Mean for the Next Generation of Jewish Leaders?

  1. David Cohen says:

    may I ask for a kind heart to read a story and for asking for help to give a disabled family the oppurtuity to live out a dream.

    I have tried to do what I can as a Disabled Person before my health deteriates. On Oct. 7th 2007 I was diagnosed thru my Neurologist of Parkinson Disease. I was deemed 100% disabled. I have a son Jacob who is 13 years old was diagnosed with Autisim/adhd/asbergers/odd as well. My wife and I started helping families since our son was born with a disibility to find resources for families that have a disibility within there family. We want to help teach individuals how to network with other organizations. My wife and I thought that the country we were born in does not do enough for people with disibilities. We started to think, wouldn’t it be nice to move to Israel to start an organization or expand options to teach families.In Israel the most important part of the culture is children and having a family. Society in Israel is nurtured for expression of one’s heart, and to share values.We began to start a journey to consider making Aliyat because our love of the religion, the caring factor of the people in Israel . I want to believe in my heart that I could get the chance at my age (58) the oppurtunity to move to the land of Israel. I have been in contact with Nefesh B Nefesh an organization that helps individuala from North America the chance of moving to Israel. One of the guidelines is to take a pilot trip to a few communities in either North Israel or South Israel. Being on a fixed income from Social Security there isn’t much we can do with linited funds.I would move to Israel with the funds I get from Social Security and that would be ok with the conversion from us to Israeli Shekels . The hard part has been the last few years thou as I am going to share with you a story which I would love for you to use in assistance with any organization that believes in giving a chance for individuals to have a better life. After reading the story, I know in your heart that you will be amazed on resilience, and dedication to have my family a better existence.I hope thru reading and caring I can get some help for my family. We have friends all over Israel from Moldin to Haifa thru beit shemash. We just want an oppurtunity to grow thru Judisim to live in the land of Israel. Now Since I am 100% disabled, I cry at times because I dream so dearly that I want to live in Israel for the remaing time I have left on Earth. Thru Hashem and organizations thru speaking to people, please help my family so I can take a trip to Israel for my Family, which is a requirement For Nefesh B Nefesh to assist with there program to assist in relocation. I would do anything for my family to get the chance in life the oppurtunityto relocate and become a citizen of Israel. Please contact me after reading my lifes experiences. Please help me get the chance to take a pilot trip to Israel, where after that I will become eligible for assistance to move to Israel. I have many friends there and accomodations while on my pilot trip will be taken care of, but just getting there is all I need. The cost of 3 airline tickets is about $3950.00. I WAS TOLD TO ALLOW OTHERS WITH AN OPEN HEART the chance to be part of my families journey.

    I am a very humble person and because I can’t save enough funds to take that pilot trip I need to take place, I have to allow others to take part in assisting us to get to Israel. Society is a nucleous of good and bad, and regardless of one’s own beliefs, the importance to be sensitive is a very important part of one’s character. Life teaches us to help each other. We are all created to be caring individuals, but how we grow up is reflected on how we want to treat others. I believe in my heart that this is a test of character and what we do with it by helping others will always show how respect is learned, and how caring people can be.

    Please Read My Story and keep an open heart to feel and understand my sorrows and joys in wanting a better life with help from all that want to help

    In 2 1/2 years just passed I lost a second parent of 83 year old Father, Wife going into Hospital the same day of the Funeral with double pnumonia in both of her lungs, a temperature of 105 and starting going into convulsions and an oxygen level of only 82% in her blood. It was touch and go for a month on oxygen therapy. Thank G-d she pulled thru. Now as this continues, we were living in Jacksonville Florida going on 4 years renting a 3/2 home at $1050 a month and never late, we had a problem paying the up coming month rent. We asked our Landlord to work with us to make up that current months rent, as Medical Cost Sky rocketed. When my neighbors heard what my landlord said after what we just went thru the previous 2 months,boy were they upset. You see my landlord said NO!!! and if we didn’t come up with the rent in 7 days, he was evicting us. Can you believe how heartless a person can be. So we were evicted and we moved and packed in 7 days and moved to a small city called Live Oak, Florida for 3 months paying half that amount of $500 a month rent for a 2/1 mobile home. We crammed a 3/2 bath home into a 2/1 home. If things couldn’t get any worse for my Disabled Family, (More to come on this) Our German Shepherd Puppy died of a heart attack. My 13 yr old Autistim/Adhd/Asbergerger/ODD son of 13 years old was devastated, which made things even worse. My landlord was dishonest and tapping into my utility pole, and I had him investigated by the Electric Company we were using called Fpl..There findings were our monthly Electric bill averaging $550 a month!!!! was being tapped into the utility pole. He found out and told us to move. So with the little money we had, we put all our stuff into storage and we were lookin for a new place. and living in the car, which by the way died after a month with a blown transmission. Well I thought this was finally the end of my Family. Now the only Positive thing left by now was my resilience not to give up, and in making about 87 calls after that to people and Jewish Federations all over the United States, we saw a shining light finally we thought. An organization that worked with Veterans and a Jewish Federation in New York pulled there resources to gether and found a place in a local hotel in Lake City where we are living at present for a period of 2 months.
    We had so much debt, with little income I was bringing in from Social Security Disibility . We had our laptops my wife and I and free Internet. So we knew we had to do something,but couldn’t move into a new place until we were able to save some money. During the 2 months in the hotel, we forced ourselves to save money so we can move into a viable home to live.. . Well finally something did and the fireworks went off. We found a landlord willing to work with us by giving us a chance to live.. We have had setbacks in our dream to move to Israel, because we believe in all our heart, that life,love, and emotions are just a delay unless we can find an organization that make our dreams come true.

    Please contact me at 904 900-8791 which is our home number or 386 466-7926 my cell number. I value people and always have an open heart to appreciate caring and help with all emotions that a person can have. Please help us get to Israel so we can live our dream before it is to late.

    Baruch Hashem

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