Transition Phil 2001


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Transition Phil 2001

  1. 1. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy 2 0 0 1 Gary A. Tobin, Ph.D. Institute for Jewish & Community Research, San Francisco
  2. 2. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy 2 0 0 1 Gary A. Tobin, Ph.D. Institute for Jewish & Community Research San Francisco In cooperation with the The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy University of Southern California Prepared for The First Forum on Philanthropy, Public Policy, and the Economy: What is "New" about New Philanthropy?
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction ..............................................................................................................................................1 The Americanization of Jewish Philanthropy ......................................................................................4 Basic Values in Jewish Philanthropy and Community ......................................................................7 Community and Ideology in Transition..............................................................................................11 The Purposes of Jewish Philanthropy ................................................................................................14 Trends Affecting Jewish Philanthropy ................................................................................................18 Current Constraints in the Jewish Philanthropic System ................................................................24 Conclusion ..............................................................................................................................................29 Bibliography ............................................................................................................................................31
  4. 4. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy INTRODUCTION It is not uncommon for scholars and practi- well: philanthropy within the Jewish commu- tioners alike to discuss the ways that values, nity is itself a set of systems, ideologies and history and community structures shape behaviors that shape the character of the philanthropy in any particular community. Jewish community. Philanthropy is not only a Philanthropy reflects community values and reflector, but a determinate and molder of norms; what communities as a whole and the values and norms as well. The philanthropic subgroups within them think and feel are structure itself is an engine that drives much often revealed through their patterns of giv- of the Jewish communal agenda. ing. It is clear that different groups of Americans weave their own ethnic and cul- How Jews give away money tells a great deal tural norms into the fabric of their philan- about the evolving character of Jewish life in thropy. Racial, ethnic, and religious groups America. Philanthropy reflects an ethnic/reli- find philanthropy at the intersection of com- gious group defining its place in American munal social systems and relationships to the society, while at the same time shaping its larger society.1 Jewish philanthropy repre- own internal direction and self-definition. sents a complex set of interactions within an Philanthropy is the means by which much of intricate set of community structures.2 Not the communal agenda is debated and decid- only do community values, norms, and ed. Jewish philanthropy shapes values and behaviors shape philanthropy within the norms as well as responds to them. Most Jewish community, but the opposite is true as Jewish fundraising organizations are not only 1 Emmett D. Carson. A Hand Up: Black Philanthropy and Self-Help in America. Washington, D.C.: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 1993; Sandy M Fernandez. “Hispanics Erase Myths With Money.” New York Times, Wednesday, 18 November 1998, sec. G, p. 16; Bradford Smith, Sylvia Shue, Jennifer Lisa Vest, and Joseph Villarreal. Philanthropy in Communities of Color. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999; Robert Wuthnow, Virginia A. Hodgkinson, and Associates. Faith and Philanthropy in America. Washington, D.C.: Independent Sector, 1990; Philanthropy and the Black Church, ed. Alicia D. Byrd. Washington, D.C.: Council on Foundations, 1990; William E. McManus. “Stewardship and Almsgiving in the Roman Catholic Tradition,” in Faith and Philanthropy in America, ed. by Wuthnow, pp. 115-133; William A. Diaz. “Philanthropy and the Case of the Latino Communities in America,” in Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector. ed. by Charles T. Clotfelter & Thomas Ehrlich, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1999, pp. 275-292; Lilya Wagner and Ricardo Rodriguez. “Applying and Disseminating the Values of Stewardship and Philanthropy in Hispanic/Latino Institutions and Communities,” Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, 1998. 2 It is important to note that the Jewish community itself is hardly a monolith. Although Jews comprise only about 2% of the total population in the United States, this five to six million people constitute a diverse set of subgroups. Different subcultures of Jews exist, e.g. immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Israel. Geography also plays a role, with the Jewish community cultures of New York, South Florida, San Francisco and Los Angeles, for example, being quite different from each other. Jewish communities tend to reflect the characteristics and behaviors of the regions in which they live. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and other denominational differentiation within Judaism also constitute different sub-communities, as do various forms of participation in the Jewish community. This paper does not purport to examine all the various nuances that derive from the complex composition of the Jewish community and its diverse sub-populations. Rather this paper looks at the Jewish community as a whole. The philanthropic structure is examined, as it represents the entire Jewish community, recognizing that more detailed analyses of Jewish subgroups would provide a more varied profile. 1
  5. 5. Institute for Jewish & Community Research institutions that raise money, they are also We do know that religious identity, whether institutions that educate, lead, and define the expressed by ritual observance or participa- values of American Jewish society. The pur- tion in communal activities, is highly corre- poses for which money is raised define the lated with giving to Jewish philanthropies. character of the Jewish community. Synagogue attendance, synagogue member- Contributors and non-contributors alike are ship, organizational membership, and visit- profoundly influenced by the programs and ing Israel were found as the most important institutions funded through the Jewish phil- variables associated with making a contribu- anthropic structure. The social science litera- tion to a Jewish philanthropy and the amount ture discussing patterns of Jewish philan- contributed. Indeed, philanthropic behavior thropy is somewhat limited. Quantitative itself is one of the variables which constitutes data on donor attitudes and behavior are still a component of Jewish identity.6 scarce in the Jewish community. Given some of the conventional wisdom about the suc- We also know that Jews are slightly more cess of Jewish philanthropy in the United likely to make some contribution to a non- States, one might have anticipated a greater Jewish than Jewish philanthropy and that the analytical framework. Yet we have little number of donors to umbrella giving empirical analysis on why Jews give, to through federations’ annual campaigns has which philanthropies, and the relationship of been declining.7 A number of studies corrob- religious identity to philanthropic behavior.3 orate that there is a growing propensity for Some studies look specifically at women’s Jews to give to secular rather than Jewish roles in Jewish philanthropy.4 No compre- causes, especially for younger Jews.8 Yet, hensive study of Jewish philanthropy is Jewish philanthropy is thriving, both in the available to compare to general American central system of the federation, and outside society as reported by the Independent it, in terms of actual dollars raised or man- Sector.5 3 Jack Wertheimer. “Current Trends in American Jewish Philanthropy.” In American Jewish Year Book 1997: A Record of Events and Trends in American and World Jewish Life, edited by David Singer and Ruth R. Seldin, Volume 97, 3-92. New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1997; Peter Everett Tarlow. “Who Gives? Who Leads? A Study of A Voluntary Jewish Fundraising Organization,” Ph.D. diss., Texas A&M University, 1990; Dorene Lehavi, “A Survey of Evolving Attitudes Regarding Charitable Giving to Federated Organizations in a Jewish Community,” Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 1995.; Gary Tobin and Mordechai Rimor. “The Relationship Between Jewish Identity and Philanthropy.” in Contemporary Jewish Philanthropy in America, edited by Barry A. Kosmin and Paul Ritterband. Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1991, pp. 33-56. 4 Steven J. Gold. “Women’s Changing Place in Jewish Philanthropy,” Contemporary Jewry, 18 (1997). 5 Independent Sector. Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 1999, Executive Summary. (Washington, D.C.: Independent Sector, 1999). 6 Gary Tobin and Mordechai Rimor. “Jewish Giving Patterns to Jewish and Non-Jewish Philanthropy,” Faith and Philanthropy in America, Robert Wuthnow and Virginia A. Hodgkinson and Associates, Editors, pp. 134-164. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1990. 7 Gary Tobin. Trends in American Jewish Philanthropy: Market Research Analysis. Maurice & Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University, Policy and Planning Paper 8, April 1992; Gary Tobin. “The Future of the UJA-Federation of New York.” Guiding Organizational Change: The New York Federation (1986-1996), Michael J. Austin, ed. Maurice & Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies/Institute for Community and Religion, Brandeis University, New York: UJA Federation. Fall 1996. 8 Gary Tobin. Jewish Philanthropy: Patterns of Giving to Charitable Causes in Greater Philadelphia. The 1996/97 Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia, Special Report no. 4. New York: Ukeles Associates, 1998; Gary Tobin, “Potential Major Donors of the Greater East Bay.” Prepared for the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay. San Francisco: Maurice & Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies/Institute for Community and Religion, Brandeis University, February 1996. 2
  6. 6. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy aged. The federation as an institution is thriv- zations such as the New Israel Fund, Jewish ing as never before, even while the annual National Fund and other organizations have campaign is flat. In spite of the great success shown major increases in the past ten years. of federations in overall financial resource The number of organizations raising money development, the diminishing role of federa- has also burgeoned; therefore, more dollars tions has been speculated about for some are being raised through a broader network. time, at least since the beginning of the 1990s. The competitive nature of the fundraising One prominent Jewish journalist queried in a system has resulted in more organizations 1992 editorial about whether federations producing more dollars by addressing specif- would continue to function at all.9 Articles in ic needs and interests, and tapping into tar- both the Forward and the Wall Street Journal geted subgroups of Jews. Jews are giving in 1998 documented the central funding sys- more dollars than ever before to Jewish caus- tems losing ground to more targeted philan- es, as well as more dollars to secular causes. thropies in Jewish life.10 But all revenue streams to federations have been increasing The context in which Jewish philanthropy dramatically over the past decade. The con- takes place has changed radically in the last cern about the overall health of federations is few years. The purposes for which funds are a misplaced and antiquated emphasis on the raised, the processes of collection and distrib- annual campaign as the primary measure of ution, and the institutional landscape in the success. Unrestricted endowments, restricted Jewish fundraising world are all being endowments, philanthropic funds, special altered. Some of the underpinnings — philo- campaigns, and capital campaigns have all sophical, ideological and religious — in the grown at a rapid pace. While the percentage Jewish fundraising system remain essentially of the total revenue stream represented by unaltered, but the nuances of the purposes the annual campaign has been declining, the for which monies are raised have expanded overall base has been growing. Federations and become more differentiated. have increased their annual allocations through grant-making far beyond the funds This monograph looks at Jewish communal distributed from annual campaigns.11 The values and structures as they shape philan- growth of this aspect of the federation system thropy. It is not an analysis of religious ideol- is likely to increase at an even greater pace, ogy, Torah text, or an in-depth look at the given the revised estimates of the amount of relationship of Jewish theology and philan- wealth to be transferred in the near future.12 thropy. A rich literature exists on tzedakah and The total dollars raised outside the federation performing acts of loving-kindness, and the system have also been growing. Organi- meaning of Jewish laws regarding giving and 9 Gary Rosenblatt. “Can Federations Survive?” Other Voices Column, The Jewish Journal, 16-22 October 1992: 35. 10 Sara Berman. “UJA Eclipsed by Targeted Gifts to Israel: ‘American Friends’ Generate a Shift in Charitable Giving” Forward. 6 March 1998.; Tamar Hausman. “U.S. Jews Refocus Donations to Israel, Shifting to Nongovernmental Causes,” The Wall Street Journal, 5 October 1998. 11 Donald Kent and Jack Wertheimer. “A Revolution in Federated Giving,” Opinion, The New York Jewish Week, 8 October 1999.; Donald Kent and Jack Wertheimer. “The Implications of New Funding Streams for the Federation System.” Journal of Jewish Communal Service: A Quarterly of Professional Trends and Developments. 76, no. 1/2 (Fall/Winter, 1999): 69-77. 12 John J., Havens and Paul G. Schervish. “Millionaires and the Millennium: New Estimates of the Forthcoming Wealth Transfer and the Prospects for a Golden Age of Philanthropy.” w & c revised paper taken from website:, 19 October 1999. 3
  7. 7. Institute for Jewish & Community Research communal support. But that is not the pur- structure and programs into a system. The pose of this discussion.13 focus of this paper is on the ideological, with some discussion of the structural. The focus is on the current Jewish philan- thropic system, which can be viewed through THE AMERICANIZATION OF JEWISH PHILANTHROPY a number of lenses. The first is ideological. Ideology represents the guiding principles, The Americanization of Jewish philanthropy beliefs and myths that define the philan- has taken place. Jews are now so integrated thropic system. The second lens is structural. into the American mainstream, that tzedakah This is an institutional and organizational has taken on more of the character of network, the mechanisms through which ide- American philanthropy, and will continue to ologies are expressed. Over the years do so, representing less the religious tradition American Jewry, as well as other Diaspora of Jews and more the civil tradition of philan- communities, have created elaborate and thropy in the United States. Philanthropy intricate systems to help raise money to build among Jews mirrors certain aspects of the the State of Israel. The third lens is program- American system, especially among the very matic. These are the specific activities within wealthy. Issues of power, gender, generation, the system that are supported through and the roles of professionals all come into monies raised or the activities that help raise play.14 More Jews will make contributions the money. Sometimes they are the same, based in American values of giving; volun- with fundraising organizations having adopt- tary associations, giving through personal ed programs that both raise money and build choice, and supporting a wide variety of the system itself. The fourth lens is technical, causes. They, like other Americans, will pick the set of tools that are used to help raise and choose that which they want to support, funds. These tools may include marketing most often philanthropies for which they techniques, the use of media, and so on. The have some affinity or connection. One model level of sophistication of these tools varies of giving looks at variables of involvement, tremendously depending on the fundraising appeal of large projects, and other factors. organization. The fifth lens to examine the These, among other models, explore why fundraising system is procedural, the particular individuals give and others do not, processes in decision-making, resource distri- within any construct, Jewish, American, eth- bution, and so on that connect ideologies, 13 Data from this analysis come from three primary sources. First, quantitative data are available from a variety of community studies completed in individual Jewish communities, usually sponsored by the local Jewish federation. These studies engage scholars to provide overall demographic religious identity and communal behavior data. Three to four studies of this kind are usually completed each year. Second, qualitative research about donor atti- tudes and behavior are also sponsored by Federations and other Jewish organizations. These studies provide a more in-depth look at Jewish philanthropy through the eyes of donors. The emphasis in this paper is on the attitudes and behaviors of major donors who set the standards and drive much of the Jewish philanthropic agenda. The third data source is qualitative data gathered through participant observation by the author of this paper who serves as a planning and research consultant to a number of Jewish organizations, foundations, and private philanthropists. Serving in this capacity provides the opportunity to participate in planning and implementation within the Jewish philanthropic structure. 14 Teresa Odendahl. Charity Begins At Home: Generosity and Self-Interest Among the Philanthropic Elite. New York: Basic Books, 1990; Sondra C Shaw, and Martha A. Taylor. Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women’s Philanthropy. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers, 1995. 4
  8. 8. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy nic, or otherwise.15 Over time, it will become sent for Jewish community-building purpos- even more difficult to discern what is differ- es. ent or distinctive about Jewish philanthropy from American philanthropy. Non-sectarian Third, there is an enormous accumulation of institutions will continue to garner time, wealth, both from a healthy economy, and attention, and philanthropic dollars. Jews the stock market boom of the 1990s, even may now have a natural affinity and loyalty with the subsequent decline. Donors and to a whole new set of institutions and organi- foundations have more money to give away. zations — the ones that affect their lives, their Like the Jewish community, other ethnic and children’s lives, their parent’s lives. religious groups also are suddenly seeing increased contributions to their philanthropic Three trends in structures.16 With American philan- wealth comes more Parallel Trends thropy are paralleled involvement in phil- in American & Jewish Philanthropy within Jewish philan- anthropy. As one thropy. First, umbrel- 1. Decline of umbrella campaigns study in 1997 demon- la giving is diminish- 2. Rapid growth of foundations strated, those who ing. Just as United 3. Accumulation of wealth accumulated wealth Way represents a were very likely to decreasing presence, so begin serious involve- do federations’ annual campaigns play a ment in philanthropy, with the highest per- decreasing role in overall Jewish philan- centage choosing at least some kind of contri- thropy. The annual campaign of federations bution to their religious community.17 is still a major engine in Jewish philanthropy, but probably accounts for no more than 10% The Americanization of Jewish giving has – 15% of all funds raised by Jews for Jewish also included a growing propensity to give to causes (including synagogue dues and contri- philanthropies outside of the Jewish commu- butions). The annual campaign is likely to nity. American Jews have become an integral continue its decline as the central force in part of the philanthropic mainstream, donat- American Jewish philanthropy. ing large sums to a variety of institutions and organizations in the realms of education, Second, the rapid growth of private founda- health, human services, culture, politics, and tions, both in terms of numbers and assets, others. Donors have become involved more continues unabated. More dollars are being deeply in non-Jewish philanthropy for five deposited, but the pace of the distribution is reasons. slow. Most Jewish foundations, like the foun- dation world as a whole, see the 5% distribu- The first is acceptance and integration into tion requirement as a ceiling not a floor. American society, the removal of antisemitic Therefore, more and more money is accumu- barriers. Jews play prominent roles in institu- lating, but not necessarily utilized in the pre- tions from which they were once prohibited 15 Joan Mount. “Why Donors Give.” Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 7, no. 6 (Fall 1996): 3-14. 16 Diana Campoamor, William A. Díaz, and Henry A. J. Ramos, eds. Nuevos Senderos: Reflections on Hispanics and Philanthropy. Houston: Arte Público Press, University of Houston, 1999. 17 Clayton-Davis & Associates, Inc. “Religious Causes Draw Most Interest Among Charitable Contributors, Study Shows.” From “Affluents Profile Study” conducted for Mercantile Trust. December 1997. 5
  9. 9. Institute for Jewish & Community Research from taking leadership roles due to antisemit- local community specifically, have been very ic restrictions. Involvement in the general good to them. Many Jews feel that they have society’s philanthropy signals both group been given incredible opportunities to be and individual triumph to blend into the full-functioning and accepted members in an American mainstream. open society. They believe that since the country has been so good to them, and the Second, serving the non-Jewish community is society so open, that there is a quid pro quo seen by many as a mission of their Jewish- for Jews to support general institutions as ness. The possibilities for giving as an expres- well as Jewish institutions. Therefore, they sion of Jewish life are extended even further express their gratitude to the nation and to by broadening the definition of what is the community through philanthropy. Jewish. Some individuals believe that they Philanthropy becomes a “thank you” to are performing an America, a statement explicitly Jewish act by of personal gratitude Reasons for Americanization contributing to a secu- in addition to a reli- of Jewish Philanthropy lar shelter for the gious act or ideology. homeless or even an 1. Acceptance and integration into emergency food pro- American society A fourth factor is the gram for the hungry 2. Fulfilling Jewish mission of serving desire to represent the under Christian aus- larger society Jewish community, to pices. Even though the 3. Giving something back as Americans be ambassadors of the recipients are non- 4. Being ambassadors of the Jewish Jewish people, and to Jewish, both institu- community secure good will for tion and clients, the 5. Secular concerns are more compelling Jewish causes. Some act of performing donors do not want mitzvot with Jewish non-Jews to assume sensibilities can make practically any giving that Jews support only Jewish causes, that opportunity a Jewish one to some donors. Jews are too insulated or self-concerned. This philosophy extends the opportunities Some feel that if Jews are too isolated and for giving from the myriad of Jewish institu- provincial, the hospitable atmosphere of the tions and causes to a decision-making matrix general society will not respond to Jewish which, for all practical purposes, is infinite. needs. By giving to a wide variety of general Philanthropy is also a means to reduce the causes, some donors feel that they will conflict between being Jewish and being a ensure general community support for “middle-class,” that is, ordinary American.18 Jewish concerns. Third, many donors believe that they must Indeed, there is evidence that Jewish philan- contribute to societal institutions outside the thropists are more likely to make their largest Jewish community because the donor desires gifts to non-Jewish philanthropies.19 Gifts of to “put something back into the community.” $40 million, $50 million, $100 million, or even Many feel that America generally, or their more from Jews are not uncommon to non- 18 Evan M Adelson. “The Dirty Business of Charity: Raising Money, Reproducing Stratification, and Constructing the Jewish Community.” American Sociological Association Paper, 1995. 19 Gary Tobin, Alex Karp, Ayo Griffen, and Aryeh Weinberg. A Comparative Study of Mega Gifts: Jewish & Non- Jewish Donors. Insitute for Jewish & Community Research, San Francisco, CA, 2001. 6
  10. 10. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy Jewish philanthropies. These gifts are not Jewish philanthropies. Or one could argue necessarily paid out in a one-year period, but that the pool of philanthropic dollars may be paid over a five or ten year period or expands depending on both motivating fac- longer. Nevertheless, non-Jewish causes are tors and agencies involved. The latter illus- attracting the largest Jewish donor gifts. trates that philanthropists give to a wide Individual Jewish philanthropists make variety of causes, both Jewish and non- annual gifts of substantial amounts to Jewish Jewish, and the amount given is not necessar- philanthropies, but it is less common to see ily dependent on the decision to give to a mega-gifts given to the Jewish community. Jewish versus non-Jewish cause. If the dona- Universities, symphonies, hospitals, and tion pool, that is, the amount given, is some- museums are capturing the largest gifts from what fixed, then Jewish philanthropies have Jewish donors. serious competition from non-Jewish philan- thropies. If the pool expands, depending on Fifth, non-Jewish causes seem more com- the case made and the motivation that is pro- pelling. Most individuals interviewed in a vided, the amounts given tend to reinforce variety of studies indicated that they could one another rather than be competitive. give two or three times more to Jewish phil- anthropies if they felt the need. Most of them BASIC VALUES IN JEWISH PHILANTHROPY AND COMMUNITY do not feel the need.20 As a result, a high pro- portion of their giving now goes to non- Jewish philanthropy is anchored in three per- Jewish philanthropies. The proportion of giv- vasive values. The first is tzedakah — the ing to Jewish philanthropies has declined ancient religious imperative to provide for precipitously for many major donors, down those in need. Tzedakah — literally righteous- from 70% for many to 30% or less. Many also ness — is a deeply embedded set of religious feel that there is no Jewish institution or obligations that Jews have for one another organization that they know of that could and all human beings. A variety of scholarly efficiently or appropriately utilize a gift of and popular works attest to this relationship $80 or $100 million. Familiarity breeds some of tzedakah and social justice in the contempo- contempt on the one hand, and disengage- rary American Jewish community.22 The set ment breeds suspicion on the other hand. of ideologies and behaviors that constitute Some would argue that among wealthy tzedakah resembles other faith traditions of Americans, the level of giving in general is charity; concepts of sharing both energy and not what it ought to be.21 material goods with those who are less fortu- nate. Also like other Americans, the impulse One could hypothesize that in a fixed pool of for philanthropy is deeply ingrained as an philanthropic dollars, Jewish philanthropies emotional and psychological desire to help are competing for contributions with non- others.23 What distinguishes tzedakah is the 20 Op. cit. Gary Tobin. “The Future of the UJA-Federation of New York.” 21 Claude Rosenberg, Jr. Wealthy and Wise: How You and America Can Get the Most Out of Your Giving. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1994. 22 Lawrence Bush and Jeffrey Dekro. Jews, Money and Social Responsibility: Developing a “Torah of Money” for Contemporary Life. A Guidebook with Supplementary Essays by Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Arthur Waskow, with a Forward by Jonathan Schorsch. Philadelphia: The Shefa Fund, 1993. 23 Robert Wuthnow. Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991. 7
  11. 11. Institute for Jewish & Community Research absolute sense of obligation, its matter-of- became interwoven into the basic foundation factness. It is a must, not a should. It is a of Jewish society. Religious and civic systems command, not a consideration. It is not a were fused: religious acts and civic actions matter of choice. An individual is not consid- were one and the same. Philanthropy, as ered generous because one shares that which Jewish Americans understand it, is not part they have, because one is supposed to do so. of a “voluntary sector” that is separate from Tzedakah is deeply embedded in Jewish governance or civil law, but fully melded into thought and feeling, especially the impera- an overall communal structure. Some consid- tive to provide for basic human needs, such er philanthropy the civil side of Jewish life, as food, shelter, and children in need. These and synagogue attendance or ritual obser- concerns are the foundation for the intricate vance the religious side, when both are actu- set of social and human services Jews build ally religious in nature.25 for their communities. Tzedakah is also dedi- As the religious/social cated to serving the Basic Values in Jewish Philanthropy societies of Judaism world-at-large, non- were transplanted and Jews as well as Jews. 1. Tzedakah (Righteousness) maintained in a multi- The need to “repair a 2. Reinforcement of ethnic, cultural and tude of Diaspora com- broken world” (Tikun religious identity munities, Jews brought Olam), is deeply 3. Self protection from external threats their philanthropic embedded in commu- systems wherever they nity values and went.26 Thus the sys- norms. A strong universalistic component tems of philanthropy became more and more characterizes Jewish philanthropy. The inter- institutionalized over time. In place after est in social justice and volunteering evolves place, century after century, this religious/ constantly. It continues to take new forms, social structure was replicated. Jews main- such as the Jewish Service Corps, which is tained separate or quasi-separate societies, designed to serve the secular rather than the with human and social service systems. Long Jewish world. 24 before the “public sector” took responsibility, Jews took care of other Jews. They became The command of righteousness through phil- proficient in designing, building, and main- anthropic obligation was codified within a taining service systems. They would bring set of societal laws that wove a system of this accumulated knowledge and practice to communal order. How one was to perform America. The synergy between Jewish phil- righteous acts was laid out in an elaborate set anthropy and the American system would of instructions — first in the written law make both systems flourish even more. (Torah), and then in the oral law (Talmud) of the Jewish people. These acts of giving 24 “Rabbi Nurtures Young Jews’ Quest for Faith and Service.” Special Report, Religion Section, Chronicle of Philanthropy, 14 January 1999. 25 Jonathan Woocher. Sacred Survival: The Civil Religion of American Jews. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987. 26 Howard Sachar. A History of the Jews in America. New York: Random House, 1993; Paul Johnson. A History of the Jews. New York: HarperPerennial, 1988. 8
  12. 12. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy Tzedakah and the philanthropic systems that regular, and uneventful that it is usually not derive from the religious values of providing considered much in discussions of American for basic human and social needs have been Jewish philanthropy.28 part of the construct of Jewish life for so long that the vast majority of Jews that participate The community-building agenda includes have little knowledge or understanding of advocacy for Jewish education and support- the religious origins of their actions. Over ing synagogues as primary focal points. time, these religious values have been trans- These areas of philanthropic investment are lated into communal norms, even in the receiving more attention. It is not clear what absence of individual or institutional knowl- the outcomes will be. The issue of building edge or recognition of the religious origins of Jewish identity may arouse intense emotions, the beliefs and behaviors. These feelings and but does not necessarily offer a clear rallying actions are now “hard-wired” into the Jewish point, ideology or programmatic agenda for subconscious and communal psyche, guiding fundraising or institution-building. Some and directing Jewish behavior. philanthropists may pick specific program- matic agendas such as sending students to Second, Jewish philanthropy is used to rein- Israel or expanding summer camps to build force ethnic, cultural and religious identity. Jewish community. But for the most part, the Philanthropy expresses and reinforces the community-building agenda does not lend desire to maintain separate identity and com- itself easily to quick fixes. This fact can lead munity. Elaborate systems are developed to to frustration or cynicism, because problems support Jewish education and for perpetuat- that do not have quick fixes seem to have no ing religious life. Not only is it a righteous fixes at all. If clear-cut and easy to implement act to feed a hungry person, it is also a right- remedies are not available, then some believe eous act to educate a poor Jew or logically that there is no remedy to be had. extended, to help subsidize the religious par- ticipation of any Jew who can not afford it. Third, philanthropy is used for self-protec- The philanthropic system has a large compo- tion from external threats. The persistence of nent dedicated to creating successive genera- antisemitism throughout Jewish history tions who identify and act as Jews. Like other required funds for defense systems and res- religious groups in America, where the cue efforts. Defense has evolved into political church is the primary recipient of much phil- lobbying, legislative campaigns, and devel- anthropic activity, Jews make hundreds of oping political coalitions with other interest thousands of small gifts to synagogues. groups. A number of organizations such as However, baby boomers and younger are less the Anti-Defamation League, American likely to give to a church.27 The day-to-day Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish support of synagogues through membership Congress were created to fight antisemitism.29 dues and other contributions is so ordinary, There is little question that Jews will rally to 27 Holly Hall. “The Lost Generation?” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 11;11, 25 March 1999: 25-26 28 Most Jewish households do not have a current membership in a synagogue. Yet, most belong on and off during their lifetimes, and attend synagogue on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 29 Gary Tobin with Sharon L. Sassler. Jewish Perceptions of Antisemitism. Plenum Press, New York, NY, 1988.; and Elizar, Daniel Judah. Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1995. 9
  13. 13. Institute for Jewish & Community Research give more money to fight antisemitism when almost always pervaded Jewish philanthropy. they feel the need. Rescue includes efforts to The crises can be characterized in the follow- raise money to help bring Jews out of the for- ing ways. If Jews did not feed one another, mer Soviet Union where they are threatened they would starve. If Jews did not help build by antisemitic violence, or from Ethiopia Israel, then all Jews, everywhere, all the time, where they are subject to both discrimination would be at risk in potentially hostile coun- and extreme poverty. Jews in America also tries throughout the world. If Jews did not developed an elaborate system of rescue help support Israel financially, Arab armies organizations, community relations organiza- would have crushed the young state. If Jews tions, lobbying organizations, and institu- did not help subsidize Jews to leave the for- tions to support Israel. Support for Israel is mer Soviet Union, they could be subject to linked to the need for self-protection. Israel is violent antisemitism. The Jews of Ethiopia seen by world Jews as the ultimate expres- would starve. If Jews do not support their sion of religious destiny, pride, and self-pro- synagogues and education programs for tection for Jews. It is considered a safe haven Jewish youth, the Jewish community would from discrimination and violence in a hostile eventually disintegrate. Conditioned by world. external and internal threats, Jewish philan- thropy has intertwined danger, fear and Jewish society was constructed to carry out despair as an underlying emotional basis. the religious imperatives. These patterns were reinforced by Jews living in isolated The dominant themes in philanthropy in the subcultures; more often than not, persecuted last two generations have been linked to peril and denied most basic economic, social and and destruction from external forces. The individual rights. Expressions of righteous- United Jewish Appeal’s Operation Exodus in ness also became defense mechanisms; Jews the late 1980s and early 1990s was the culmi- taking care of their own as a necessity in the nation of decades of effort to facilitate migra- face of external hostility. Therefore, philan- tion (to Israel and the United States) of Jews thropy and the social and institutional struc- from the Soviet Union.30 Many Jews felt that tures created by it were a communal expres- this population was in peril and those that sion of survival. If Jews did not care of their remain in the former Soviet Union remain in own, they would perish in a hostile world. peril. The campaign rightfully emphasized The very fabric of Jewish society linked giv- the threat of antisemitism and repression in ing and survival in Jewish consciousness and the Soviet Union and the latent danger con- behavior. Raising money has never been tinuing into the 1990s. Rescue was the motif about raising money alone. It has always of the campaign. Indeed, fear has been at the included serving God, helping fellow Jews, heart of the great themes of Jewish conscious- and fending off aggression and discrimina- ness in the twentieth century: failure to pre- tion. vent disaster (the Holocaust), vigilant battle against hostile neighbors (Israel), and avoid- Because Jews have been forced to be reactive ance of disaster, rescuing Jews from potential to hostile external forces, a crisis mentality repression (Soviet Union). 30 Op. cit. Gary Tobin. Trends in American Jewish Philanthropy: Market Research Analysis. 10
  14. 14. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy The communal tension between these basic The expression of these values have pro- values is constant and intense. How does the duced major philanthropic successes in the community fulfill the need for human ser- Jewish community over the past century. vices in the Jewish community and the need These have been the building of synagogues, to serve all of the world? How do Jews bal- Jewish community centers, religious schools ance the need to build religious identity, and and other institutions to build religious and the need for defense and rescue? These ten- ethnic identity, the building of a human ser- sions are being played out now with increas- vice delivery system to serve the Jewish com- ing ferocity, since the Jewish community is in munity, the building of the State of Israel, such dramatic transition. and the resettlement of Jews at risk, includ- ing from Arab countries, Ethiopia, and the Most Jews do not wish to embrace a system former Soviet Union. These values are now in that forces them to choose between building a major transition. Jewish community in the United States ver- sus social welfare needs in Israel, versus res- COMMUNITY AND IDEOLOGY IN TRANSITION cuing Jews from the former Soviet Union, or feeding an elderly Jew in Eastern Europe ver- Today, however, Jews can begin thinking sus sending a Jewish child to a Jewish-spon- about who and what they want to be. This sored preschool in the United States. emerging reality is at the heart of the current Ultimately, asking Jews to choose between transition in Jewish philanthropy. The transi- communities, between causes, between pur- tion of Jewish life finds three concurrent poses, creates untenable choices. themes intertwined in the philanthropic sys- tem. First, Jews have become highly integrat- For many donors, programs in building ed into mainstream American society. As one Jewish community, even if they are vitally author has noted, sometime in the last two important, are less of a priority than social generations, Jews became “white folks” in welfare programs in the Jewish community. America.31 Second, Jews remain different, in Basic human needs come first. Donors must spite of this integration. Jewish psyche and be convinced that those in need — the elder- behavior remains distinct from the overall ly, the homeless, the hungry, the émigré in society. Jews still practice a different religion need of job retraining — will be adequately from Christianity, connect to Israel more served before they will consider reallocating closely, and still largely marry other Jews dollars to Jewish continuity. Yet, some donors (although diminishing all the time).32 Third, believe just the opposite, that Jewish commu- Jews have not completely shed their survival nity-building comes first and that the social fears. Discrimination and violence have been welfare system of the general society can take too frequent and too recent for fear to dissi- care of Jews in need. Others simply do not pate within a generation. There has been a believe that there are Jews in need. shift from a focus on external threats (anti- 31 Karen Brodkin. How Jews Became White Folks & What That Says About Race in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998. 32 Council of Jewish Federations. 1990 National Jewish Population Study. New York: Council of Jewish Federations, 1992. 11
  15. 15. Institute for Jewish & Community Research semitism) to internal threats (loss of separate the causes and institutions of the secular soci- identity). Being communally and socially ety, unless again faced with an external secure and still being afraid causes major dis- threat. location in the philanthropic system. Signs of resurgent antisemitism may reverse this shift: Because tzedakah is not limited only to Jews, violent hate crimes against individual Jews or the more success and prosperity Jews “stop the Jews” signs on college campuses. achieve, the greater their ability to support group needs throughout American society, Even as Jews have become more successful and the rest of the world. The enormous eco- socially, economically, politically and cultur- nomic and political success of the American ally, the crisis mentality remains a raison Jewish community means that they have d’être to raise funds. This has been reinforced much more to give. At the same time, the by the consistent threats to Israeli survival in integration of Jews into the general society — the Middle East and the mass movement of schools, business, politics, and cultural life — Jews from the former Soviet Union in what makes them integral players in the secular continues to be viewed by Jews as an antise- world. However, the more successful Jews mitic environment and potentially threaten- become, and the more obligated they feel to ing to the safety of the Jewish communities support secular institutions, the more they that remain. Therefore, the themes of rescue also feel the threat of internal dissolution. and survival, while not necessarily salient for Therefore, the need for self-help and mainte- raising funds for domestic purposes, have nance of a separate communal order — one remained a key motivator for fundraising, that enriches a distinctive and separate and still permeate Jewish thought and emo- Jewish identity — by definition also requires tion. How Jews make the transition from the an ever growing need for financial resources. crisis mentality and the fear of group sur- Jews are only able to give away more to the vival will be difficult. Indeed, shifted general society because they are so much a fundraising themes away from crises from part of it. Jews would not be able to give to external threats to crises from internal threats the general society at such great levels if they is the mirror image of a similar ideology. were not so successful, and the Jewish com- Group survival remains the essence of the munity would not need financial support as philanthropic system. much if Jews were not so successful. This ten- sion will continue to play itself out in Jewish The conundrum of Jewish philanthropy rests philanthropy until it is better understood, in being both successful and afraid. addressed openly and honestly, and some- Integration into American society draws Jews how the Jewish community is able to come to to non-Jewish philanthropy. At the same grips with the great philanthropic “Catch- time, acceptance into the secular society 22.” transforms the distinctive cohesiveness of Jews and therefore, requires more communal But concern about maintaining a separate attention and funding. The very success of identity may not engender as much passion American Jewry necessitates more rather or financial support as past crises, because than less funding for the Jewish communal many Jews may not see weakening Jewish infrastructure. Yet Jews are more drawn to identity as a crisis at all. Jews want to be both 12
  16. 16. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy assimilated as well as separate. They like contributions from the Jewish community. being Jewish and American, and they like Like other groups, the imperative to take care contributing to both Jewish and secular caus- of one’s own in the Jewish community es. Few Jews want to segregate themselves involves being part of the American human completely from American society, except for service mainstream and garnering a share of some ultra-Orthodox groups. It is difficult to public sector dollars. While Jews continue to sustain a sense of crisis when the vast majori- be concerned about the human service needs ty of Jews do not want to live in entirely of their own community, it is unclear how Jewish neighborhoods or go to entirely much support needs to be generated through Jewish schools. Although afraid of group dis- the private system of Jewish philanthropy, solution, the assimilation emergency is hard and how much should or will come through to market to the vast majority of American the general society. Much of the maintenance Jews: they like their lives way too much to of the human service system comes from the think about isolating themselves again. The public sector, while emergency needs, special positive effects of Jewish education, religious campaigns, and capital needs come through meaning, and community cohesiveness may the Jewish philanthropic system. be far more appealing psychologically, and therefore philanthropically, than emphasizing The Jewish community is confused about the imminent demise of American Jewry. But who is responsible for what; is it the federal these positive messages are rarely transmit- government, the state government, charities ted.33 as a whole, or the Jewish community specifi- cally? Jews are still committed to the basic The clarity about supporting human services tenets of maintaining a human service infra- in the Jewish community has also been seri- structure, but they are much more unclear ously damaged. The self-help imperative is about the mechanisms to provide this goal. very murky because Jewish human service Should Jews support political candidates and organizations, like other non-profits in programs that provide more of these services America, have become increasingly inter- through the public sector? Or do they reas- twined with federal and state programs. It sume the support burden? Are Social has been accepted for some time that founda- Security, Medicare, and Medicaid enough to tions and private philanthropy must take up meet the health needs of the Jewish elderly? some of the slack from the public sector with- Or should Jewish organizations be providing drawal from certain human service pro- more comprehensive services, and if so what grams, but are not certain about which com- kind?35 ponents and how much.34 Jewish homes for the aged, vocational services, family and chil- The confusion about public versus voluntary dren services receive most of their money sector roles and how much human service from the public sector rather than private support is necessary and in what realms, 33 Examining direct mail from many Jewish organizations, they continue to refer to the Holocaust, antisemitism, and threats from intermarriage. 34 National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Community Foundations and the Disenfranchised: A Report on Ten Top Community Foundations’ Responsiveness to Low Income and Other Historically Disenfranchised Groups In American Society. Washington, D.C.: National Committee For Responsive Philanthropy, 1994. 35 Leslie Lenkowsky. “Philanthropy and the welfare state: rethinking the partnership.” Philanthropy 9 (Summer 1995): 5-7, 26-8. 13
  17. 17. Institute for Jewish & Community Research may hamper the ability to raise money for Philanthropy as Community-Building human services. Questions often emerge from prospective contributors about the Giving money to Jewish causes, institutions necessity of their contribution in the light of and organizations is a mechanism to define government support and subsidies. Few peo- group membership. One of the standard defi- ple seem to be sure about how much is being nitions of affiliation with Jewish community done by whom and, therefore, what the indi- includes giving to Jewish philanthropies. vidual and collective responsibility in the Beliefs and behaviors define whether or not Jewish community ought to be to meet one is a Jew. Along with belonging to a syna- human service needs. Economic good times, gogue, observing certain rituals such as par- the relative invisibility of the needy, and the ticipation in a Passover Seder or attending gradual raising of the standards of basic religious services on Rosh Hashanah (The needs, all lead to a hesitancy and uncertainty Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of in supporting the human service agenda Atonement), donating or not donating to through Jewish philanthropy. Jewish purposes is used as a key benchmark for defining affiliation. Therefore, increasing THE PURPOSES OF JEWISH PHILANTHROPY the number of donors to Jewish philan- thropies is seen as a It would seem that the way of identifying, purposes of philan- Purposes of Jewish Philanthropy defining and building thropy in the Jewish 1. Community-building the Jewish communi- community would be 2. Teaching activity ty. The value of con- straightforward and 3. Volunteer development tributing goes far simple: To provide 4. Leadership development beyond the dollars financial resources for 5. Expression of personal identity themselves. Most various purposes, 6. Value definition community leaders causes, and institu- 7. Building bridges between groups of Jews believe that making tions within the Jewish 8. Building bridges to other Americans some contribution to a community. But this Jewish philanthropy view of Jewish philan- constitutes a major thropy is too simplistic. The system of Jewish statement about one’s identity as a Jew. philanthropy is much more complex in its Conversely, contributing nothing to Jewish purposes than the provision of financial philanthropies is taken as a statement of dis- resources alone. A variety of techniques, both engagement, disinterest or disenfranchise- standard and innovative, for existing institu- ment. Communal leaders look not only at the tions and new ones, for large scale and small amount of money being raised, but the pro- scale efforts, centers the mission on raising portion of the population that contributes. the most dollars. But philanthropy in the Broadening as well as deepening the base is Jewish community is far more than raising valued not only as a fundraising strategy, funds. It serves another set of other functions that is, more donors will eventually lead to that both define and reflect Jewish communal bigger contributions from those donors, but values and beliefs. 14
  18. 18. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy as a value in itself. Even if there were hun- history lessons are vaguely woven into dreds of thousands of additional donors who fundraising efforts and appeals are some- gave only a dollar and never gave substan- times laced with the meaning of Judaism, tially more, this would still be viewed as communal goals and cultural values. Given communally positive. Someone who makes the relatively low rates of affiliation with reli- no contribution to the Jewish community is gious institutions and the waning participa- viewed as an outsider — a loss to the tribe. tion of many Jews in traditional ritual or So strong is the emphasis on the contributing communal activity, fundraising can be a key obligation as a measure of Jewish communal mechanism to teach Jews about Judaism. The involvement, that a deep sense of loss accom- value, therefore, is not only in how much panies discussions of the declining donor money is raised, but how much both individ- base to Jewish causes. uals and groups of Jews learn about being Jewish. Little assessment has been made However, the primacy of raising money usu- about the effectiveness of this teaching role, ally triumphs over the communal value of but would make for an important secondary involving more donors in Jewish philan- analysis about Jewish philanthropy. thropy. Like most fundraising, most Jewish philanthropy focuses on major donors and Philanthropy as a larger gifts. Expending resources to expand Volunteer Development Tool the donor base is often seen as inefficient as a fundraising strategy when so much more can Fundraising is a means to engage volunteers. be added to the bottom line by concentrating According to the latest Independent Sector on major gifts. Therefore, a sense of loss may study, 16% of Americans who volunteer do pervade the declining donor base in Jewish so through fundraising. Raising money is an philanthropy, but relatively little investment expression of community involvement within is made to address the issue. Philanthropy the American culture.37 Donors look for for the Jewish masses is viewed as an essen- meaningful ways to express their support for tial part of Jewish identity and behavior, but a particular organization or institution. for the most part goes unattended in philan- Fundraising allows for a multiplicity of tasks thropic planning and execution. and talents that includes organizing events, solicitations, “back room” support services Philanthropy as a Teaching Activity and many others. Philanthropy provides avenues for engagement, team-building, and Jewish philanthropy may be viewed by many an outlet for those who want to be part of the as a way to teach Jewish values. Personal Jewish community and are looking ways to solicitations, telephone requests, direct mail, express their Jewish identity. Furthermore, and fundraising events can be mechanisms to philanthropy is goal-oriented with clear inform the Jewish public about issues in benchmarks of success and accomplishments. Jewish life, religious teachings, and commu- Therefore, people feel positive about their nal values. The teaching goal of Jewish phil- Jewish identity when they reach their anthropy is usually implicit rather than fundraising goals. The philanthropic struc- explicit for most of those involved. Jewish tures are especially important for Jews who 37 Op. cit. Independent Sector. Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 1999 15
  19. 19. Institute for Jewish & Community Research do not consider themselves to be “religious.” those devoted to raising money. Philanthropy Significant proportions of Jews bifurcate their is viewed as a training ground where indi- identity between their ethnic/cultural defini- viduals learn about the purpose and struc- tions of Judaism and what are more standard ture of an organization, become vested in it definitions of religiosity, including synagogue and contribute more money and more time. attendance, or ritual observance such as But, leadership is defined by position, not keeping kosher. Participation in philanthropy actual knowledge or skill in leading the orga- is traditionally a system of expression of nization. Philanthropic leaders also serve the Jewish values and communal connection for role as ambassadors for the organization to those who may feel marginalized or alienated other institutions in both the private and from what they call the religious side of public sectors. Judaism.38 Even for those ethnic and cultural Jews who are now seeking more spiritual Philanthropy as Personal Identity & connections to Jewish life, philanthropy still Expression offers an excellent vehicle for volunteer par- ticipation. As noted, traditional values, histo- Jewish philanthropy can be a powerful mode ry and other elements of Jewish learning are of expression of one’s personal identity. For incorporated into the philanthropic enter- some, it may be the secondary or even prima- prise. While in the past, Jews who engaged in ry identity, superseding even profession or philanthropy may have in engaged in a family. Individuals have the opportunity to deeply religious set of activities, they may assume multiple identities, including philan- have done so without having any knowledge thropist or grant-maker. Coupled with the based in Jewish learning. Philanthropic pervasive role philanthropy plays in Jewish activism and learning are becoming more society, being identified as a philanthropist integrated. represents a positive individual identity in the community. Philanthropy offers a legiti- Jewish Philanthropy as Leadership mate and valued way to express personal Development values and commitment to being a Jew. While recruiting volunteers in general is a Fundraising as a Value Definition Activity key goal of the philanthropic structure, recruiting leaders is even more desired. The fundraising system helps define values Individuals are valued not only for their dol- and set priorities for the community. This lar contribution, but their willingness to take process is both passive and active. The pas- committee, board, task force, and other lead- sive process is the cumulative result of thou- ership roles in the voluntary structure of the sands of individual decisions within the organization. Very often, major donor status Jewish philanthropic structure from individ- and leadership status are defined as one and ual donors small and large alike. What peo- the same, with little attention to leadership ple choose to give to is interpreted as state- training efforts for the largest contributors. ments about what the Jewish community Those who give the most money become should be doing, where it should be heading, presidents and chairs of boards within a vast what it stands for, and so on. Like some col- array of Jewish organizations, particularly lective hidden hand, what individual donors 38 Op. cit. Jonathan Woocher. Sacred Survival: The Civil Religion of American Jews 16
  20. 20. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy fund defines the direction of the community Building Bridges Among Groups of Jews and sets policy. A more active process, how- ever, includes setting priorities, developing The fundraising system also serves to build a strategic plans, defining mission statements, bridge, foster communication networks, and and making conscious choices about alloca- develop relationships between various seg- tions for the funds that are raised. Value defi- ments of the Jewish community. For example, nition and clarification occurs as groups of the exchange of philanthropic dollars has Jews decide whether or not to fund a particu- largely defined the relationship between lar program or institution; make strategic American and Israeli Jews. Jews raised decisions about funding human services or money for Israel and expressed their support educational programs, or whether or not to for the State of Israel by contributing money. fund programs and causes in the United While the nature of that exchange is now States or in Jewish communities around the undergoing transition, it defined the relation- world. The active value definition that takes ship between these two segments of the place in the philanthropic structure includes world Jewish community for at least the past prolonged and serious debate about whether sixty years. In the absence of common lan- or not a particular project is worth giving guage, highly diversified cultures and great money to and to what extent and compared geographic distance, raising money for Israel to what. While there may be a general con- allowed American Jews to feel a deep sense sensus that the project is worthwhile and has of connectedness to the Jewish State. Given merit, it may have a third, ninth, or twentieth the key role that Israel played in the develop- priority compared to other projects in the ment of American Jewish identity for the past Jewish community. three generations, the powerful effect of fundraising as a connector between Israel Philanthropic structures force the organized and American Jews cannot be overempha- Jewish community to make choices about sized. Philanthropic support for Israel was a what is important and what is not, focusing clear, unambiguous way for Jews to express the community on what to fund and what their Jewish identity. not to fund, and how to allocate perceived scarce philanthropic resources. Indeed, it is in Building Bridges to Other Groups in America the philanthropic structures that most value clarifications of the Jewish community are The expression of Jewish values outside the now taking place, as opposed to within syna- Jewish community is also a key function of gogues, rabbinic, or scholarly communities. some components of the Jewish philanthropic Rabbis and scholars are participants in these structure. Organizations have been created discussions and debates, but the convening such as Mazon, “A Jewish response to institutions are very often fundraising organi- hunger” or the Jewish Fund for Justice, zations or the fundraising arms of Jewish which assists groups in need. These organiza- organizations. Many Jews look to the tions, while under Jewish fundraising aus- fundraising institutions to help define and pices, are explicitly designed to serve the clarify the mission and goals of the Jewish non-Jewish community. These institutions are community. This role is almost as powerful viewed as vital expressions of Jewish values, as the one of providing financial resources. that is, to feed the hungry, shelter the home- 17
  21. 21. Institute for Jewish & Community Research less and so on. The provision of financial from having a strong Jewish homeland pro- support under Jewish auspices is distinctly vided the basis for much of Jewish identity in different than Jews contributing as individu- post-World War II America. Israel has been als to secular institutions in American society. the single most sustaining and unifying ele- Jewish philanthropic organizations, explicitly ment of Jewish identity over the past two designed to serve the non-Jewish community, generations. demonstrate a different value; Jewish groups helping non-Jewish society. Such organiza- The peace process and the belief that the tions reflect the Jewish obligation to help all threat to Israel’s survival had diminished, human beings in need. These philanthropic coupled with Israel’s growing economic suc- structures are intended to fulfill that role and cess, have raised questions about the contin- at the same time help build bridges between ued need to raise money to support Israel. Jews and other groups in America. While most Jews still believe that raising money for Israel is essential, the sense of cri- TRENDS AFFECTING JEWISH PHILANTHROPY sis and imminent doom was drastically reduced, only to reemerge with the collapse A number of ideological, structural and pro- of the peace process, and terrorist attacks on cedural changes are dramatically altering the United States. Most Jews still hope that Jewish philanthropy. Israel will eventually First, the Jewish com- have peace. Trends Affecting Jewish Philanthropy munity is witnessing an ideological shift. 1. Change of ideology away from Israel The growing recogni- Jewish identity in the and assimilation tion of higher levels of United States is no 2. Diversification of purposes and assimilation revealed longer expressed pri- programs in the 1990 National marily through contri- 3. Decentralization of fundraising Jewish Population butions of money for institutions Study made many Jews the support of Israel. 4. Privatization of allocations and conclude that Lacking a religious or grant-making American Jewry need- even cultural basis to 5. Demand for greater accountability ed to be strengthened otherwise frame 6. Increasing influence of women from within and could Jewish identity, the no longer rely on Israel 7. The professionalization of philanthropy financial support of to solely define its pur- Israel largely defined pose and identity.39 Jewish identity. The Even those who remain institutional base in the United States was highly supportive of Israel began to question created before the establishment of the State whether this attachment could substitute for of Israel and evolved into an infrastructure an authentic and vibrant American Judaism. built around raising money for the Jewish homeland. Fundraising for Israel became an The centrality of Israel is likely to remain part end almost unto itself. The pride that derived of Jewish identity, but it can no longer substi- 39 Op. cit. Council of Jewish Federations. 1990 National Jewish Population Study. 18
  22. 22. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy tute for the need of community, a sense of that Israel does not need their support. Thus history, and the other elements that define a they view the possibility of peace as a life- vibrant community. More and more, Jews are long dream being fulfilled and want to be looking for other elements of their Judaism part of the process of ensuring that peace that would include Israel, but not be circum- succeeds. Many are also aware of the contin- scribed entirely by donating money to the ued aliyah (immigration to Israel) of Russian State of Israel. Jews. While some believe that the disman- tling of the Soviet Union may bring a renais- Furthermore, as the relationship between sance of Jewish life in Russia and the other Israel and the Diaspora matures, other con- republics of the former Soviet Union, most nections between Israeli and American Jews believe that the vast majority of Jews will are becoming more frequent and desirable. continue their exodus from these countries. Jews can express their connection to Israel Most are willing to continue to support the not only through donating money, but also resettlement of Russian Jews in Israel, and by becoming involved in Israeli politics or the continued aliyah will engender support in private sector activities, and through many the immediate future. other institutional and personal connections. American and Israeli Jews are looking for The organized Jewish community also has ways to connect beyond American Jewish collectively decided they have too much, financial support.40 rather than too little assimilation. Assimilation ideology dominated the For those who want to continue to financially American Jewish community throughout contribute to Israel, relative prosperity stimu- most of this century. American Jews strove to lates a re-thinking of how to give to Israel, become part of the American mainstream, including which mechanisms to use. Donors shedding much of their separate identity con- will have the opportunity to examine their sciously and willfully to participate fully in traditional patterns of giving. Programs American society. Most Jews believed that which enlarge and enrich the community life they could maintain a minimalist commit- of Israel — universities, museums, science, ment to formal Jewish life in most realms, and technology — will have more attraction including learning, worship, organizational to some donors than will those on the “sur- membership and activity, ritual observance, vival” agenda. Giving to Israel will be much and so on, and still be Jewish. Most Jews also more analytical, and far less automatic and believed that they could discard most of their emotional. distinctive behaviors and beliefs and not lose their Jewish identity altogether. They Some are more interested in partnerships, believed that they could remain cultural investments, and designated projects within Jews, secular Jews, be “just Jewish,” reaping Israel, but still see Israel as their primary the full benefits of social and cultural integra- avenue for giving to Jewish causes. Many are tion into America and still be at heart and so committed to supporting Israel that it is soul, Jews. They could remain recognizable psychologically difficult for them to believe to themselves and others as a separate people 40 Gary Tobin. “Redefining Israel-Diaspora Connections,” in The Forum, North American Jewish Forum/United Jewish Appeal, New York, NY, Winter 1993/1994, pp. 29-30, 37-38. 19
  23. 23. Institute for Jewish & Community Research with a unique history, identity and purpose. emerging territory for Jewish fundraising The ending of assimilationism as an ideology organizations. Nevertheless, the ideological could be marked by the release of the 1990 declaration was clearly made: levels of assim- National Jewish Population Study, which ilation should proceed no further, and the revealed a national intermarriage rate of Jewish communal structure had to rededicate 52%.41 While some scholars debated whether itself to re-establishing a separate group iden- the intermarriage rate was slightly less, all tity. agreed that the 1990 study documented what everybody had suspected: the rates of assimi- The current transition has created something lation as measured by intermarriage had akin to ideological chaos. The end of the pri- accelerated dramatically since the 1970s. macy of Israel and assimilationism ideologies While the 1990 National Jewish Population did not come in the wake of the formulation Study was not everyday reading for the vast of alternative ideologies. Rather, the transi- majority of American Jews, the organization- tion has led to an ideological void. Jewish al and institutional structure responded with fundraising organizations are seeking to a dramatic outcry that the continuity of Jews redefine themselves, to develop a new ideol- was at stake and that a communal response ogy that will redefine the purpose and mis- to combat the loss of identity and “too much sion of Jewish life in the future. Some leaders assimilation” was necessary. are calling for a return to traditional Jewish values, others are arguing for a combination Jewish continuity commissions and task of tradition and a Jewish renewal that is more forces sprang up everywhere, committed to adaptive to the realities of contemporary the preservation of Jewish life through the modern life. The search for purpose, the need transmission of a greater sense of community, to redefine mission, and the struggle for insti- identity and connection through formal and tutional identity characterize the contempo- informal Jewish education and other pro- rary philanthropic structure. While vast grams. Jewish organizations and institutions amounts of money continue to be raised for rededicated themselves to Jewish learning to the general purposes that have always moti- search for religious meaning and became vated Jewish giving, there is less certainty strong advocates for developing mechanisms about what ultimately is being achieved. The to preserve the Jewish community. While few philanthropic structure reflects a fundamen- suggested that all Jews become Orthodox, tal dislocation in Jewish life as the communi- there was a growing belief that the re-estab- ty attempts to redefine what it wants to be. lishment of traditional Judaism was neces- sary to combat communal attrition, and per- Second, Jewish philanthropy is increasingly haps disintegration. Jewish philanthropy, diversified, in terms of purpose. The basic therefore, turned inward, seeking funds for purposes for Jewish fundraising remain programs to maintain a separate Jewish iden- essentially the same, divided within broad tity. The techniques by which those funds categories of support for Israel, support for would be raised and donor response to the human and social welfare functions, rescuing themes of Jewish continuity are still new and Jews in danger, building Jewish community, 41 J.J. Goldberg. “Whoops or Bad News: Things are Fine — A new study shows the 52 percent intermarriage rate was a mistake.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, column, 28 December 1999. 20
  24. 24. The Transition of Communal Values and Behavior in Jewish Philanthropy fighting antisemitism, and supporting social The decentralization of fundraising is also justice, in both the Jewish and non-Jewish characterized by the growing number of communities. But these broad purposes are fundraising organizations other than federa- being further refined and subdivided into a tions. It is natural that diversification would vast array of sub-purposes. Support for have been accompanied by decentralization, Jewish health needs may translate into the reflecting the need for smaller group control establishment of Jewish healing centers or within the Jewish community. Institutions, conferences on Jewish medical ethics. organizational leadership and individual donors try to find the best combinations of Expanded purposes have been accompanied their interests, structures and programs. The by a tremendous diversification of programs, decentralization of fundraising can allow for partly driven by the competition with secular a better match between a specific donor or activities and services. Source books of new set of donors and institutional purposes and programs at Jewish community centers, syna- programs. gogues, day schools, and other institutions show a great deal of experimentation occur- The fourth major trend is privatization of ring in terms of activities and programs. Jews allocations and grant-making. Increasing are no longer constrained to utilize Jewish numbers of donors are removing themselves organizational services. Therefore, a multi- from the public consensus models of federa- tude of new programs are being designed to tions and making more decisions through the compete with the secular world. establishment of Jewish family foundations, restricted endowments, and private philan- A third major trend is decentralization in thropic funds. This evolution has occurred fundraising institutions themselves. This because of federal tax incentives coupled decentralization takes a number of forms. with individual desire to control giving. The revenue streams within the federation Donors want to feel assured that their money umbrella structure have multiplied to include is going to good purposes. This shift towards not only the annual campaign, but major individual philanthropy does not necessarily fundraising through endowments, special mean that individuals have more access to campaigns, capital campaigns and other information, a better knowledge base from mechanisms. The autonomy of divisions which to make a decision, more contact with within some federations has become more their potential grantees, or a sense of assur- pronounced. Specialized interest groups ance and trust that their monies are being within the federation sometimes conceive of wisely used. themselves as more separate and distinct entities. The decentralization within the fed- The explosion of Jewish family foundations eration structure has gone so far as to see and the evolving successes and challenges of models of semi-autonomous or almost com- this system have been documented in a num- pletely autonomous endowment boards of directors that collect and allocate funds sepa- rately from the rest of the federation struc- ture. 21
  25. 25. Institute for Jewish & Community Research ber of recent studies.42 These vehicles allow alternative to the federation system. They donors to contribute directly to the institu- pride themselves on not being beholden to tions or programs that they choose, and even anyone, but rather thinking and acting inde- to be proactive in creating new programs or pendently within the Jewish world. In many initiatives on their own. The privatization of cases, just the opposite is achieved. Working philanthropy takes much of the agenda-set- outside the federation system creates more ting in the Jewish world out of the public uncertainty and less control. Many founda- domain and into the private domain of indi- tions have the illusion of control but in fact viduals and private institutions. As in the reflect uncertainty. Part of these trends are a general society, more and more, donors want reaction to the presence of a central umbrella to be included in project implementation as authority, including the specific personalities well as funding.43 The privatization of phil- of current or past leadership of federation — anthropy signals a trend where allocations both lay and professional. Ironically, of for Jewish communal purposes, both domes- course, many of the “independents” are also tically and overseas, will be made increasing- major contributors to federation and may be ly within the specific goals and objectives of making substantial gifts to the annual cam- the individual donor or family foundation. paign of the federation.44 More funds will be allocated in the Jewish communal realm from restricted endow- Many foundations view themselves as an ments, philanthropic funds and private fami- alternative voice providing ideas and capital ly foundations than through the allocations for the development of new initiatives, pro- process of the central umbrella campaign. grams, or institutions within the Jewish com- munity. Federation is sometimes referred to Some federations are more successful than as “big brother,” with all of the negative con- others in working with Jewish foundations notations of an authoritarian regime. Many of and individual philanthropists. Some donors the foundations are, of course, also involved identify the federation as the place to turn in funding programs at the same agencies when they establish their own foundations. funded by federations, including Jewish fam- Others have built Jewish foundations outside ily and children's services, Jewish community the local federation, even though they may centers, Jewish homes for the aged and so on, have a supporting foundation or philan- and foundations often supplement the alloca- thropic fund at the federation. tions from the annual campaigns of federa- tions. Still, they feel it is important to main- Many of the representatives of the founda- tain independent integrity and not blindly tion world see themselves as representing an accept federation statements about communi- 42 Gary Tobin, Amy L. Sales, and Diane K. Tobin. Jewish Family Foundations Study, San Francisco: Maurice & Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies/Institute for Community and Religion, Brandeis University, November 1996; Gary Tobin, Joel Streicker, and Gabriel Berger. An Exploration of Jewish Federation Endowment Programs. San Francisco: Maurice & Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies/Institute for Community and Religion, Brandeis University, July 1997; Gary Tobin, Michael Austin, Meryle Weinstein, and Susan Austin. Jewish Foundations: A Needs Assessment Study, San Francisco: Institute for Jewish & Community Research, 1999. 43 Pablo Eisenberg. “The ‘New Philanthropy’ Isn’t New – or Better.” Chronicle of Philanthropy, 28 January 1999, 31- 32. 44 Op. cit. Tobin, Austin, Weinstein, and Austin. Jewish Foundations: A Needs Assessment Study. 22