Home September 2012 Making a Difference

Making a Difference

Sometimes you just feel compelled to take action.  Such was the case when we learned that the Moishe House was in financial trouble.  We like to think our cover story and editorial in the March 2012 issue made a difference in getting people to step up to the plate and make donations.  While we can’t take credit for the fact that the Moishe House was indeed saved, we’re happy to report that we were “early adopters” of the view that it needed to be.
On August 8 the online publication eJewishPhilanthropy wrote that some major sources of funding have stepped up too.  To help Moishe House implement a new Strategic Growth Plan to broaden and deepen its impact on Jewish young adults in their 20s, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF), Leichtag Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group and Maimonides Fund are investing a total of $6 million in the international organization.
Moishe House has 46 residences in 14 countries to engage more than 50,000 attendees a year.  The combined efforts of the five foundations demonstrate a common goal to expand proven initiatives that reach young Jewish adults and foster vibrant Jewish lives, including those of 20-somethings in Orange County.
“These grants will help Moishe House engage and educate more young Jewish adults through both expanding our existing model as well as new and creative channels,” according to David Cygielman, CEO of Moishe House.  Moishe House plans to expand to new locations, provide educational training for residents and their peers and enhance organizational infrastructure and fundraising.
For their part, foundation officials realize the importance of the “bridge years,” those between the campus, where students might be involved in Hillel and other Jewish activities, and the phase of life when people get involved with synagogues and other established Jewish institutions.  They understand that people are getting married later, moving to new places for their careers and – in today’s economy – putting emphasis on finding employment more than they are putting emphasis on finding philanthropic activities.  Having a place to go, socialize and feel comfortable, these 20-somethings are more likely to “stay in the fold” and give back when they can.
Speaking of giving back, this is a giving season and a season of choice.  Some readers will choose a new congregation or a more active role in Judaism, while others will contemplate political choices.  Because this is a season when we may be hearing about politics or rabbis’ perceptions of how to make Jewish choices in the voting booth, our cover story talks about the relationship between the two.  Other rabbis will talk about how individuals can make a difference in the world around them, and we present some ideas about that too.  We hope you just feel compelled to take positive action during this New Year, no mater how you define it.
L’Shanah Tovah, Orange County!

Ilene Schneider

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