As we prepare to kindle the first Shabbat candles of 2024, it is a fitting time to shed light on two trends in the Jewish philanthropic world: (a) the increase in giving to Jewish causes, including Israel; and, perhaps even more importantly, (b) a surge in the number of collaborations and partnerships being formed by Jewish organizations. Both are vital components of our effort to strengthen the bonds that unite the Jewish people, and the ability to sustain them will be key to helping Global Jewry realize its full potential in 2024 and beyond.
Although it is too soon to know the exact amounts contributed to Jewish causes in 2023, there are some eye-popping numbers that suggest overall giving rose significantly in 2023 over the prior year. The UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street Dinner raised a record-breaking $45 million for its annual campaign and announced it had secured another $156 million for the UJA Israel Emergency Fund. The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) reports that it has raised $711.5 million for emergency relief in Israel, $242 million of which had already been distributed to help address immediate needs stemming from the October 7th attack and its aftermath. Israel Bonds says it sold more than $200 million in bonds in the week following the start of the war, and Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism received a $200 million grant to fight rising hatred in the United States, half from Kraft and half from the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation. Equally as impressive are the substantial amounts raised by other groups in the US, Israel and elsewhere about which we do not yet have the details.
And while it is easy to write this phenomenon off as simply a response to the dual threats of Israel’s security and antisemitism, similar to how the Jewish world responded to the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War just a few years later, it is important to remember that 50 years have passed since those events. The resources available to the Jewish world today are vastly greater than they were back then, and there is no reason to accept this increase will be a spike rather than a trend. More to the point is the fact the Jewish people cannot afford to fail to seize this moment to help donors understand the totality of needs in the Jewish world, the ones that will remain once the immediate challenges of this two-headed crisis are addressed. It is imperative all of us who care deeply about the Jewish future find ways to support emergency campaigns while simultaneously making a compelling case for increased funding for those serving the Jewish people right now and who will be doing the same holy work the “day after.”
Looking ahead to the new year, this is a role we intend to play at Global Jewry. As stated so well by advisory board member, Barry Finestone, president and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation, “there’s going to be a long tail both literally and psychologically” and, despite the immediate challenges we are confronting, this is no time “turn our back” to all the organizations on which Jewish communities around the world depend “or else the fabric of Jewish life that we have built over the years has the potential to crumble.” In fact, this is precisely the time to do the opposite. We must use this time of enhanced Jewish identity to remind everyone of the breadth, depth, beauty, and importance of the Jewish people, to ourselves and to the world at large. Ours is a magnificent and inspiring story, one it is vital we share even in the toughest of days.
Thanks to an unprecedented wave of cooperation and collaboration among Jewish organizations, that is exactly what is happening throughout our community. Jewish groups are beginning to work together in new and exciting ways to spread messages of Jewish engagement, Jewish joy, and Jewish pride. Included among these efforts are the JFNA’s Blue Ribbons for Israel campaign and Shabbat of Love project, both of which have the support of more than 125 affiliates and partners. The “Bring Them Home” campaign organized by the American Jewish Committee also has approximately the same number of partners, including more than half from outside the United States. The JFNA and AJC are also part of the 10/7 Project, a new centralized communications partnership designed to promote continued bipartisan support for Israel.
Global Jewry is also on a roll. We are now a global partnership of 150+ organizations, many of whom represent dozens of affiliates, and a proud participant in all the collaborations open to us. We also continue to recruit new partners every day. Just this week, we were thrilled to welcome Taglit Birthright, the Re’ut Group and several other important organizations – including one from Colombia and one from the Netherlands – to our initiative.
At a time when much of what we read and hear is dark and depressing, it is helpful to remember not all news emanating from the Jewish world is bleak. Indeed, increases in both the funding for Jewish causes and the number of collaborations being formed are positive signs for the future. These trends are worth celebrating even as we know it is imperative that we figure out how to keep them moving in the right direction.
To that end, please share with us other partnerships with which you are familiar and how you think Global Jewry can help our community continue building on the good things happening around us.