Areivim/The Fund for the Jewish Future — What Do You Think?

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I ended a week of fundraising travel with Daniel (yeah, we’ve gotta do that to keep the Jewish knowledge flowing your way) to find JTA’s headline, “Disappointed Steinhardt vows cuts and changes in funding.” The short of it:

Unhappy with the results of his $125 million investment in Jewish causes over the past 12 years, philanthropic trailblazer Michael Steinhardt says that he is scaling back and refocusing the efforts of his signature foundation…

In an extensive interview Wednesday at his Manhattan offices, Steinhardt told JTA that he will be narrowing his foundation’s attention to three major areas: creating follow-up programs for birthright participants after they return home; building a $100 million Fund for the Jewish Future, also known as Areivim, to transform formal and informal Jewish education, and the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative…

Steinhardt has tapped the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Robert Aronson, to head the $100 million Areivim fund. The fund, which is co-chaired by Detroit billionaire William Davidson, will include 20 philanthropists who invest $5 million each. Steinhardt said that 13 have signed on so far.

The Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation is a major sustainer of ours here at MJL, so I’m not going to editorialize about this myself. This story could have huge significance for the world of Jewish learning and engagement, but as I did some research online this afternoon, I couldn’t find any other blogger or publication (other than JTA) that had weighed in. So I was curious — what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Oh, and while you’re at it, why don’t you drop a coin into the fund for our little corner of the Jewish future?

Posted on July 26, 2007

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One thought on “Areivim/The Fund for the Jewish Future — What Do You Think?

  1. melo

    As one who’s also suckled at the teat of Jewish philanthropy for a living, I probably shouldn’t comment either, but heck, I am posting under an anonymous username…

    There’s a contradiction here: On the one hand, someone willing to give away millions of dollars has every right to put that money where he/she wants, have say in how it’s used, back out when he wants, etc. On the other hand, a lifelong hedge fund investor and secular atheistic Jew may not be in the best position to decide how to increase Jewish involvement, create meaningful Jewish experiences, etc. The best philanthropists are involved in how their money is used but hire trusted Jewish professionals and experienced laypeople to help make decisions, help evaluate efficacy, and to generally guide their gift-giving. But not everyone is like this.

    The problem is that so much of the Jewish world’s prirorities, resources, focus, etc., is driven by philanthropists’ and their often-idiosyncratic-at-best wishes. I am not sure there’s a way out of it, since as we know, money makes the world go around. I guess we can pray that more philanthropists strike the right balance between involvement and trust in the professionals.

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