Ten Jewish Nonprofits Saving the World
Posted on 09/16/2020 @ 12:06 PM
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, a time of reflection and growth, a time when we ask ourselves how we can become better, more fulfilled people, and how we can earn forgiveness for our transgressions against others. And though the notion of joyously ringing in 5781 during such extraordinarily challenging times is perhaps an impossible ask, it’s more important than ever that we double down on amplifying and celebrating the good being done in this world. In honor of the Jewish New Year, we’ve put together a list of ten Jewish nonprofit organizations who we admire greatly—who do the splendid and necessary work of making the world safer for Jewish people of all stripes. This is a time of great need—and, as such, should be a time of great giving.
For leaders in combating hate — any and all kinds — look no further than the Anti-Defamation League, an organization with over 100 years of experience fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry. When it was founded, the ADL’s mission was to secure justice and fair treatment for the Jewish people; now, the ADL leads the world in exposing extremism, whatever its stripe, whomever its target. By delivering anti-bias education and law enforcement training, and through their ceaseless efforts to halt defamation wherever they see it, the ADL proves itself to be a staunch and essential defender of expression.
Encounter is a nonpartisan educational organization that believes in the responsibility of Jewish leaders to engage seriously with a set of voices representative of all the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Encounter’s primary project is a slate of programs designed to inspire new perspectives, new conversations, and new approaches to the conflict, which they achieve through direct encounters with the people with whom Israel is destined to share its future: Palestinians. Immersive Education programs bring selected Jewish influencers to the West Bank and East Jerusalem to meet with Jewish thought leaders and a wide range of Palestinians. Continuing Education programs build on established relationships, creating networks and novel approaches to peace in the Middle East.
Greater Miami Jewish Federation
For over 80 years, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation has been serving the needs of Jewish people in Miami, in Israel, and around the world. GMJF — or Jewish Miami, as it's sometimes known — is a force for good in its home in Miami-Dade County, mobilizing human and financial resources to those in need, and helping unify the Jewish community, domestic and abroad. In addition to their role as community leaders, GMJF funds numerous agencies that build Jewish knowledge, strengthen identity, and help foster a sense of peoplehood.
Jewish Communal Fund
The Jewish Communal Fund is the largest and most active Jewish donor-advised fund around. Their mission is to promote charitable giving to sectarian and nonsectarian organizations through donor-advised funds. In short, the JCF makes the idea and practice of giving more attractive, easier, and less expensive to donors. In 2019 alone, the JCF established $456 million in fundholder grantmaking—as well as numerous individual gifts that helped build playgrounds and food banks, establish programs for Holocaust survivors, and provide scholarships for those in need.
Jewish Democratic Council of America
Actively promoting policy consistent with socially progressive, pro-Israel, Jewish community values, the Jewish Democratic Council of America seeks to energize the Jewish electorate to engage in the electoral and legislative processes. The JDCA is committed to creating positive change through information sharing, issue advocacy, rapid response and research, messaging, briefings, and anything else that increases Jewish communal engagement.
Jews of Color Initiative
A national effort focused on building and advancing the professional, organizational, and communal field for Jews of Color, the Jews of Color Initiative specializes in grantmaking, research and field building, and community education. In their words, the “Field” is the ecosystem of organizations, efforts, and individuals who make up the larger universe of the Jewish community. For the JCI, the Field needs to be populated by organizations and individuals that center Jews of color, that advance racial justice in the Jewish community, and that strengthen the entire Jewish community.
Joint Distribution Committee
The Jewish Distribution Committee, doing good work in 70 countries, lifts lives and strengthens communities. For over 100, the JDC has been a leading humanitarian organization, rescuing Jews in danger, providing aid to vulnerable Jews, and developing innovative solutions to Israel’s most complex challenges. The JDC has become essential to the survival of millions of people and to the advancement of Jewish life across the globe. Founded during World War I to help Jews suffering in Ottoman Palestine, the JDC became the first Jewish organization in the United States to give large-scale funding for international relief.
Imagine a world in which all LGBTQ Jews and their families can live with full equality, justice, and dignity. That is Keshet’s goal. By strengthening Jewish communities and equipping Jewish organizations with the skills and knowledge needed to make all LGBTQ Jews feel welcome, Keshet works to ensure full equality and participation for the LGBTQ Jewish community. Founded in 1996 in Greater Boston, Keshet has become a national organization with offices in the Bay Area and New York, in addition to their Boston headquarters. Their works takes them into synagogues, Hebrew and day schools, youth groups, summer camps, social-service organizations, and other communal agencies. They train Jewish educators to prevent anti-LGBTQ bullying, celebrate, LGBTQ Jewish identity, and mobilize Jewish communities to protect marriage equality and transgender rights.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Located among the national monuments on the National Mall, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is an essential stalwart in the struggle against forgetting — and repeating — history. The USHMM teaches millions of people each year about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide. There is an alarming rise in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism these days, and as such it has never been more crucial to support the institutions that work to fight the forces of hate in the world.
YIVO is so many incredible things at once: a research institute, an institution of higher learning, an adult education organization, a cultural center, and a world-renowned library and archive. YIVO preserves, studies, shares, and perpetuates knowledge of the history and culture of East European Jewry worldwide. Indeed, it is the only prewar Jewish archives and library to have survived the Holocaust—and as such, it needs help making sure their invaluable documents and materials are preserved for centuries to come.