What we're doing:  instigated questions and provoked answers.
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Dear Friends:

Summertime is often thought of as a “quiet” period in Jewish organizational life.  Yes, camps are operating at full speed, and it’s a time for travel to Israel and other locations on the global Jewish landscape.  But, most schools are closed down, programs are on hiatus, synagogues are on a “summer schedule,” and many of the Boards and committees (of which Jewish life has plenty) mercifully take a break.
For us at Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, the pace slows somewhat as well.  But, this is an important time for us to do some serious thinking and planning with our Board about future directions and issues that have emerged during the course of the program year. 
So, what’s on our agenda this summer?  In the spirit of transparency, here are three things we’ll be working on: 
First, we’ll be putting together the foundation’s design for our own ongoing self-evaluation.  How can we know if we’re making a difference?  How can we maximize our learning (and make appropriate mid-course corrections) as we implement our four-pronged strategy of grantmaking, convening, thought partnership, and communications?  We ask our grantees to assess their progress; we need to do the same.
Second, we’ll be looking at the arenas where we are doing our grantmaking to see if there are additional areas that we want to be involved with.  Our focus as a foundation is on expanding and enhancing activity that helps Jews and others engage with and apply Jewish wisdom and sensibilities in ways that help them live better lives and shape a better world.  The good news is that this kind of activity is taking place today in many parts of the Jewish world – some in settings we immediately think of as “educational,” like day schools, college campuses, and learning programs for adults, but much in contexts that are less conventional.  How do we as a foundation with limited resources best use these so as to cast a wide net without losing focus (and impact) altogether?
Finally, we’ll be spending some time this summer considering how we can tap into the rapidly growing insights emerging from the behavioral sciences about issues like motivation, choice and obligation, the power of relationships and social context, and the process of decision-making to strengthen the Jewish educational work that we promote and support.  What can we in the Jewish world learn from those who are studying fundamentals of human thinking, emotion, and behavior, and how do we combine those learnings with ideas emanating from centuries of Jewish wisdom and experience?
So, though we’ll plug in some vacation time, we’re also looking forward to a productive summer at the foundation, one that will hopefully yield real dividends for our work as it picks up again in the fall.
How do you use your summer to renew and rethink?

Jon Woocher, President

Conversations we're having:
Obligation. When is it a joy, when is it a challenge?  

At a recent gathering, designed for conversation around the nature of obligation in Judaism, Rabbi Asher Lopatin offered, “I feel joy in those obligations I feel ownership of, the same way I view Torah as an inheritance, something that belongs to me - those obligations are easy. But those I feel that are imposed from the outside, I resist them. I was in the army for 6 weeks, and I hated receiving orders. My wife pointed out - aren’t you a halakhic Jew, used to rules and following them? Which helped me realize that when it’s from the inside, I’m happy to do it, but not when it feels like it’s external.” 

Do you find Jewish "obligations" to be a joy or a burden?  
What are the Jewish practices you feel are true obligations?

Share your thoughts (or additional questions) on our Facebook page, or directly in an email.


To help guide our grantmaking, we’ve formulated a series of questions about how Jewish wisdom and sensibilities are cultivated, transmitted and applied in today’s world that we call our “Learning Objectives.”   One of our learning objectives is to understand what draws individuals to seek out and engage with Jewish ideas and practices.  Rabbi Lee Moore explored on our blog one possible answer – joy – which is illustrated in the work of several of our grantees.

Joy.  What is it, how do we create the conditions necessary for it to be, and why is it so important in program design?

Learn more about the insights being gathered by three of our grantees: Mechon Hadar, Bible Raps, and Wilderness Torah.
Matt Bar gets joy (and inspiration) from the kids he works with - but don't take our word for it.  Give a listen.


We are enthusiastic supporters of Slingshot and other fellowships, prizes, and competitions that focus on innovations.  Our Executive Director and President have both served as reviewers for several years - a significant time commitment that they undertake because of the incredible impact that the program has on the Jewish community.

It's a complete bonus that we've learned a great deal from our experiences.  On our blog, Dara reflected on the 8 lessons she's learned so far

Fellow Reviewer or Slingshot Hopeful, this is relevant to your interests.
This is not the kitten intern that Dara uses to help review applications and grants.  You'll have to read the post to see photos of the actual cats who provide moral and emotional support during review season.


Did you read in the New Yorker about the Talmud becoming a best seller in South Korea?  We're so curious to hear reactions to this story.

Continuing our exploration of podcasts, we've been enchanted with Vox Tablet, hosted by Sara Ivry - find their whole archive here.

Shouldn't we be sharing YOUR thoughts?
Our Summer Sensibilities series is a perfect way for experienced and first-time bloggers to find a new audience.  Submit an essay, poem, photo, cartoon, personal story, short video, text, song, memory or thought that explores one of our existing Jewish Sensibilities (any medium, really, as long as it can be hosted on a website) to be considered for publication or crossposting on our blog.  Click here to get details from Communications Manager Shana Ross.

What else should we be sharing?  Click here to send us your recommendations!
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