Philanthropy and Transformation

A prominent female Jewish philanthropist reflects on her experiences, and offers her vision.

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Like my friends and mentors, Shoshana Cardin and Sylvia Hassenfeld, I hope to demonstrate through my philanthropic activities that women can be successful agents of change in the Jewish world without focusing primarily on issues of gender. Shoshana and Sylvia work tirelessly and effectively on behalf of all Jews to strengthen klal Yisrael [the entire Jewish community] and promote Jewish renewal, the same principles that guide my philanthropy.

Through my funding and personal involvement, I hope to reach out more effectively to Jewish youth, the unaffiliated, and the intermarried. Coming from an assimilated German‑Jewish home, one in which we celebrated Easter and Christmas rather than Passover and Hanukkah, I understand the challenges they face. But I chanced upon the joys of Judaism, and I want to increase the odds that others will make these discoveries as well. Also, I hope my philanthropic efforts will strengthen the ranks of our Jewish educators and communal professionals, improve the way we communicate in the Jewish community, and--most important--help make Judaism more meaningful and fun.

The challenges confronting contemporary Jewish life are so daunting that we have no time to waste on matters that divide us. Indeed, we must join hands and direct our attention to issues that unite us. It is time for each of us to become Jewish philanthropists: to contribute whatever time, talent, and resources we can afford to help ensure a vibrant Jewish future.

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Lynn Schusterman

Lynn Schusterman is co-founder and President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. The foundation works to enhance Jewish life throughout the world as well as supporting a wide range of secular causes in its hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.