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What we're doing:  questions, answers, insights, stories.
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Dear Friends:

You probably get lots of e-newsletters, so one more in your inbox may not be exactly what you were waiting for.  But, you’re important to us – otherwise you wouldn’t be receiving this.  As a relatively new foundation with a passionate interest in helping Jews (and others) engage with Jewish wisdom and sensibilities in ways that help them live better lives and shape a better world, we see ourselves as part of a wave of activity that is transforming Jewish life today.  To be successful in our work, we need to be connected to the people and organizations who are propelling this wave forward, as creators and implementers of exciting programs, as sources of financial support and business acumen, and as thought-instigators raising big questions and providing provocative answers. 
 
This e-newsletter is one way to do that, not just to broadcast what we are doing, but to shine a spotlight on ideas and activities that are inspiring us.  We’ll save the heavy-duty conversations for our blog and our Facebook page, which we hope you’ll visit.  Consider this your periodic invitation to look over our shoulders to see what we’re up to, what we’re thinking about, and what we’re following.  

It seemed like as good a time as any to launch this new venture just before Passover, in this season of new and renewing ideas. We’ll try to be succinct and focused on things we believe you’ll be interested in.  So, welcome and we hope you’ll keep clicking.

With our warm wishes for a sweet and meaningful Passover,

          Yours,
          Jon Woocher, President
 

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In her article "Of Donkey and Angels," Maya Bernstein argues that we are obligated to generations past and future.  Do you feel such an obligation?  If so, how are you obligated?  Share your thoughts here.

 
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GIVING 

2014 marked an exciting launch year for us, as we began to focus our grantmaking portfolio on projects and organizations engaged in applying Jewish wisdom to contemporary life. It was a great opportunity for us to meet new partners, learn what excites them and their participants about Jewish wisdom and sensibilities, and renew conversations with many of our long-time partners at a deeper level.   
 
One significant point that is central to our work, not just for our own process, but as an outcome of its own that we offer the field: All of our grants represent opportunities to learn. What Jewish wisdom engages Jews today? How does it impact their lives? How can we effectively transmit Jewish wisdom and cultivate Jewish sensibilities in diverse forms and ways for a diverse population? This learning will be a central focus for us and our partners as we continue to build our grant portfolio.  
 
Click here for more on our learning objectives.  For a recap of our 2014 grants visit our blog.

LEARNING

As Rabbi Lee Moore explains in this blog post, learning (and sharing that learning) is a core piece of our foundation's work.  Here's an example from one of our current grantees.

What is Jewish about that Venture?
 
PresenTense helps develop innovative ventures that address Jewish communal needs, engage Jews, and ideally derive their inspiration from Jewish values.  That sounds wonderful – but what does it really mean for a start-up to derive inspiration from Jewish values? How can an organization like PresenTense enable Jews from all types of backgrounds to genuinely draw on Jewish wisdom for important practical purposes?
 
In 2014, LKFLT supported PresenTense to enhance their Judaic content, so that they can provide more compelling and creative ways to enable Fellows to better identify, articulate, and “own” the underlying values that serve as the bedrock of their social impact work. Using the Jewish Sensibilities Cards as a tool, social entrepreneurs anchor their social action in values that resonate with them, turning to both ancient and contemporary Jewish sources for guidance. Although their ventures are not all Jewish in nature, one of PresenTense’s goals is for Fellows to see how Judaism inspires and informs their choice to make a positive difference in the world.
 

SHARING

Jewish Camp: How's the Magic Made? That's just the starting point for the recent blogcast facilitated by CASJE, featuring our President Jon Woocher,  Read the full transcript from the weeklong conversation here.
 
Why is the Megachurch concept of sin so dangerous? We found this article in the Forward provocative, among other things a convincing argument that religions are not alike, even if they agree on certain "universal" values.  Universalism vs. Particularism is something we've been thinking about lately. We'd love to hear your reactions!
 
Happiness.  There's an app for that. As we celebrate Adar, the wisdom and dimensions of simcha, happiness, is very much on our minds. While we haven't found one that takes an explicitly Jewish approach, we've been exploring the entries in this year's Happiness Apps Challenge.  Voting has ended, but there's much to inspire here, and some interesting behavioral approaches. 
 
#RedesigningJewish - our thoughts.  In response to a challenge from UpStart to think about what #redesigningjewish might look like, our Executive Director Dara Steinberg took a dive into Design Thinking, and came out with some interesting ideas.
 
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