Philanthropies launch new initiative to promote global Jewish service

Organizations aim to promote Jewish initiatives in order to relieve suffering and inspire a new generation of global Jewish citizens.

March 23, 2015 17:58
2 minute read.
MEMBERS OF the Argentine Jewish community congregate in front of the former Israeli embassy

MEMBERS OF the Argentine Jewish community congregate in front of the outline of the former Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the building’s destruction by a car bomb. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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From providing urgent health care in Haiti, to training farmers to maximize their yields in Kenya, to rescuing people from the ruins of an explosion in Mexico, Jewish and Israeli organizations have consistently pursued meaningful ways to support communities in need around the world.

Now a new initiative, OLAM, aims to provide a shared platform to promote this global Jewish service in order to relieve suffering and inspire a new generation of Jewish global citizens in the process.

Launched jointly by the Alliance for Global Good, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Pears Foundation, OLAM aims to strengthen Jewish volunteering and service learning, international development, and social justice advocacy.

The founding partners have joined together to launch the initiative out of the shared belief that collaboration and coordination – among foundations, organizations and individuals – can exponentially increase the Jewish community’s impact on the world’s most pressing issues.

“Each of the foundations has been independently investing in Jewish and Israeli organizations working in developing countries around the world for years,” Dyonna Ginsburg, the newly appointed executive director of OLAM told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“There is an increased realization that comes after years of funding that no one foundation or organization can tackle all of the world’s issues and problems alone,” she said. “Without having a larger convening function that has a bird’s eye view, the ability to reach our potential impact as a Jewish society is impeded.”

Ginsburg joined OLAM after serving as the director of education and service learning at The Jewish Agency for Israel. Previously, she served as executive director of Bema’aglei Tzedek (“Circles of Justice”), an Israeli NGO that aspires to create a more just Israeli society inspired by Jewish values, and was one of the founders of Siach, a global network of Jewish social justice and environmental professionals.

Under Ginsburg’s leadership, OLAM will aim to help existing organizations work effectively together and multiply their collective impact while also engaging a new generation of Jews in global Jewish service.

“The emphasis is on supporting organizations that are already doing the work in the field and providing an opportunity to create far greater impact,” explained Ginsburg.

“There is also a very important story-telling function – telling the inspiring stories that the organizations and individuals are doing around the world – and conveying the message that this is an important part of being a Jew and being Israeli,” she said.

Among its initial activities, OLAM intends to convene and network professionals in the field and provide shared professional training, curricular resources, evaluation tools, and other opportunities for strategic planning and learning. The initiative also aims to organize study trips around the world for key funders and influencers; such as rabbis, journalists and other leaders, to raise the profile of global Jewish service generally.

“We like to think of our work as catalytic – catalyzing partnerships between the different organizations and the philanthropic community while simultaneously creating a greater awareness of this work,” said Ginsburg.

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