We are offering a series of one-credit courses during the upcoming winter session on a variety of topics led by prominent practitioners in their fields. We’ll be looking at each of these new courses in further detail over the coming days, including this one on Contemporary American Jewish Philanthropy.
By Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim, Ph.D.
Faith-based and ethnic communities in the United States have developed unique philanthropic practices that reflect their cultural tradition and immersion into the American way of life.
Such is the case with American Jewry who developed an array of charitable institutions and giving mechanisms over the past 150 years. For the first time, this course offers students a contemporary view on American Jewish philanthropy and its growth and change in past decades.
The values and norms guiding Jewish giving in the United States present a unique pattern of philanthropy. The structure of organized Jewish giving over centuries has resulted in sophisticated and complex re-granting activity and the exponential growth of “Friends of” and conduit organizations.
For example, organizations like the American Friends of Magen David Adom, which singularly support the Israeli National Emergency Medical and Blood Services Organization. Overall, while experiencing some dynamic changes, the practice of giving to Israel has been sustained and enhanced in recent decades, resulting in the transfer of tens of billions of dollars to Israeli society and organizations.
Learning about American Jewish philanthropy is learning what a Jewish philanthropist is and what Jewish causes are. It entails taking a closer look into the context, history, and development of Jewish Philanthropy in the United States.
In this class, students will be introduced to contemporary Jewish philanthropy and the organizations composing it. We will learn who represents Jewish communal institutions and review recent trends in representation within Jewish organizations. The course will provide context for the unique organizational structures, giving channels, and methods used by Jewish philanthropists. As well as how these actors operate during crises and emergencies.
We will take an in-depth look into the innovations in Jewish giving, the growth and development of Jewish charitable practices, and diasporic giving to Israel. We will also investigate the changes to values, norms, and belief systems ingrained in American Jewish giving.
Furthermore, the course will highlight challenges and barriers confronting Jewish philanthropies and chart a roadmap for understanding and working with Jewish communal institutions. Finally, it will spotlight recent trends and developments in the Jewish community and their impact on Jewish Communal Institutions.
An important part of the course will be providing a critical approach to the study of ethno-religious community philanthropy. To that end, we will explore the Jewish community role as a progressive philanthropic entity and its leadership in philanthropic innovation and giving models.
Understanding American Jewish philanthropy is knowing how community, faith, culture, and heritage create together a unique ethos of giving that grows and adapts over time as a community transforms. This course will provide students with an understating of this process and the tools to study one of the most fascinating philanthropic communities in the United States.
Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim , Ph.D., is the deputy director at the Ruderman Family Foundation and is a visiting scholar at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. Hanna completed her Ph.D. at the School of Social Work and Social Welfare at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with a focus on philanthropic studies. She joined the Ruderman Family Foundation after completing a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Brandeis University while specializing in the study of Jewish philanthropy.
Acknowledged worldwide as the expert on American Jewish philanthropy, Hanna’s work has been supported by several universities and research institutes, as well as American and Israeli foundations. She authors scholarly peer reviewed articles, media publications and professional reports and is frequently quoted in national and international media outlets.