Women bring a uniquely sensitive and personal approach to philanthropy in the
Jewish world, a leading female philanthropist said on Monday.
In a panel
discussion at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America,
Judith Yovel Recanati said that both men and women can lead philanthropic
projects successfully. But, she said, women can bring different skills to the
“I can see that the women add to philanthropy another angle which
is more – I’m sorry for the men here, I want to apologize – I think that women
bring something which is more with sensitivity,” said Recanati, who leads the
NATAL Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War and the Gandyr Family
There were only about a dozen men among the scores of women
who attended the discussion.
The approach of women is different by
emphasizing personal contact in the causes they fund and “not see it just as
really a business,” she said.
The moderator – Ann Pava, the chair of
JFNA’s women’s philanthropy – asked a variety of audience-submitted questions,
including regarding the challenges faced by women in this field.
forward to women being the leaders of philanthropy in the next generation,” said
Alisa Robbins Doctoroff, the president of the board of UJA-Federation of New
But, she said, women “haven’t taken charge as much as we
“We haven’t seen it as our role to give the big gifts, million
dollar gifts, the major philanthropists take that role on completely and
passionately,” she said, noting she was making a generalization.
think we’ve been until now – and there are obviously exceptions to this – more
tentative than we need to be, smaller minded than we need to be. And we need to
be expansive in our vision and how we utilize our dollars,” she
Joanna Landau, the founder and executive director of an
Israel-focused educational nonprofit called Kinetis, spoke about how she decided
on which organizations to support.
“I think that one needs to be aware of
what motivates them, what they wake up in the morning thinking about,” Landau
said. When she began her involvement in philanthropy, she needed to go through
this search herself.
“I know I’m a passionate person,” she said,
recalling her thinking. “But I don’t know what I’m passionate
Eventually, she settled on supporting Israel
Later in the panel, Racanati expanded on Landau’s discussion
of the importance of passion. She said, “you need to open your heart and be able
to see the other and see the needs” and emphasized there are many resources
available to those interested in philanthropy.
Raya Strauss Bendror said
she faced identity challenges when she started playing a role in her family’s
outreach and donations.
“I was born into the dairy [field],” she said, to
audience laughter. Her family’s namesake company, Strauss Group, markets food
products such as milk and cheese.
Deciding to turn her focus at least
partly from food, Bendror focuses on improving the quality of life in the
Like Bendror, Recanati also grew up in a family
committed to philanthropy.
“It really made me slowly, slowly think, ‘What
is my part in it’ because I knew that one day I would be in the shoes of my
parents and I would be the one,” she said.