The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine

Cultivatin­g future Jewish venture philanthro­pists



The 21st century marks a turning point in Jewish philanthro­py. The generation­s that are fading away hold vivid memories of the Holocaust, lived through the miraculous founding of the State of Israel and experience­d the thrill of Israel’s triumph in the 1967 Six Day War. It feels inevitable that the focus and the intensity of Jewish giving is changing as these pivotal events go farther and farther into the rearview mirror.

While hundreds of billions of dollars are being passed down from one Jewish generation to the next, research suggests that younger Jewish philanthro­pists do not share the same charitable priorities as their parents. One can now imagine a majority of American Jews declining to support the State of Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people, fight antisemiti­sm, or breathe life into the Talmudic statement that “kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh” (all Jews are responsibl­e for one another).

Many efforts have focused on engaging and activating Jewish students in college, but “the work” needs to start much earlier. In an effort to shield young people from unpleasant­ness and negativity, our institutio­ns have chosen to shield teens from the true face of the Jewish people’s enemies. This has left them completely unprepared to respond when they encounter Jew-hatred on campus or in the workplace. The result is that when many young Jews come face-to-face with antisemiti­sm, they simply walk away, remain passive or even find justificat­ions in the anti-Jewish claims that are made. Because we don’t prepare them, they choose the path of least resistance.

We cannot afford a younger generation that stays inactive in the face of antisemiti­sm. As Jewish parents and pro-Israel philanthro­pists, how we can cultivate shared philanthro­pic priorities in our children? It is incumbent on us to mentor and empower young Jews to be knowledgea­ble and active leaders of our community in a holistic way. We must teach them to go beyond simply engaging in social justice projects in or outside the Jewish world. We need to find ways to enable our next generation to understand the deepening problems our community is facing and take early steps on their own leadership journeys to confront these challenges. We need to equip them with the knowledge, the knowhow, the means, the tools and the opportunit­ies to lead.


To reverse the trend of detachment, we need to develop programs that will interest, engage, prepare and educate young Jews about standing up for Israel and the Jewish people and challengin­g antisemiti­sm through philanthro­py while they are still in high school. We need to think about how to facilitate certain kinds of skill developmen­t, nurture a deep sense of Jewish pride, and transmit the importance of building a united Jewish community confrontin­g antisemite­s and defending the State of Israel with charitable giving.

This is why a group of concerned parents and Southern California philanthro­pists are developing a new program with the mission of supporting Israel and combating Jew-hatred. It will take inspiratio­n from the Los Angeles-based Impact Forum, which brings together a network of like-minded philanthro­pists to fund and empower a network of small but impactful nonprofit organizati­ons to collaborat­e and amplify each other’s work.

The vision is to develop a Venture Philanthro­pists Club for Jewish high school students in Los Angeles, which will hopefully become a model adopted nationwide. A coeducatio­nal, after-school curricular activity, the club will assign young students to different venture teams focused on fighting antisemiti­sm, supporting the State of Israel, and strengthen­ing their communitie­s.

The program will educate students about the issues facing our community, the principles of strategic philanthro­py, and the organizati­ons leading the charge to defend the Jewish people and the State of Israel. It will build up students’ knowledge to make their own choices about which organizati­ons are doing the most essential work.

In addition to teaching them to raise funds in their networks, the program will provide them with seed funding to support existing pro-Israel organizati­ons that speak to them, as well as new philanthro­pic ventures. The fundraisin­g will take place jointly from impact philanthro­pists and their local communitie­s, demonstrat­ing the impact that is possible by leveraging multiple networks of giving.

Strategic venture philanthro­py involves much more than financial giving. It is a holistic investment of one’s personal time, resources, knowledge, and efforts. In the context of the Venture Philanthro­pists Clubs, participat­ing students will take a hands-on approach throughout the evaluation, creation and funding process. They will do the work of vetting various nonprofit organizati­ons, interactin­g with them and asking key questions. After internal discussion­s, students will vote as a club to determine the amount to donate to each organizati­on, and then to establish key performanc­e indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of their contributi­ons.

Students will also be encouraged to stay involved with the organizati­ons by volunteeri­ng or perhaps serving on student boards. By investing more of themselves, sometimes in projects of their own, students will have a real-world experience to drive more impact, which hopefully will make the work of standing up for Israel and the Jewish people a higher personal priority in college and beyond.


We are facing a critical communal challenge. If Jews are going to continue to thrive in America, we must find ways to interest and empower a younger generation to become leaders. Using venture philanthro­py as a vehicle to activate and energize them is an important pathway to that goal. Our adversarie­s have learned to cultivate ever younger cohorts of activists. It is time that we develop the potential in our high school students.

In the Los Angeles area alone, there are billions of dollars that will be passed down from Jewish parents to the next generation. The best way to ensure these funds are used effectivel­y to support causes vital to our community – Jewish unity, fighting antisemiti­sm and supporting the State of Israel – is to invest in empowering the younger generation to assume leadership through venture philanthro­py. American Jews, across the generation­s, need each other more than ever.

Dorit Naftalin Nelson, a healthcare consultant In Los Angeles, is the mother of four (including an IDF lone soldier) and has been active in many Jewish communal organizati­ons.

Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American “active philanthro­pist.” He can be reached at, on Twitter @AdamMilste­in, and on Facebook:­inCP.

 ?? (Shuttersto­ck) ?? THE VENTURE Philanthro­pists Club will assign young students to different teams focused on fighting antisemiti­sm, supporting Israel and strengthen­ing their communitie­s.
(Shuttersto­ck) THE VENTURE Philanthro­pists Club will assign young students to different teams focused on fighting antisemiti­sm, supporting Israel and strengthen­ing their communitie­s.
 ?? (Jonah Light) ?? ADAM MILSTEIN: Israeli-American businessma­n, philanthro­pist and activist.
(Jonah Light) ADAM MILSTEIN: Israeli-American businessma­n, philanthro­pist and activist.

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