Jewish Foundation for Culture To Shutter Next Year

With the Organization's Departure, Will Culture Suffer?

An Unsustainable Model: Ofri Cnaani’s ‘Sota Project’ (pictured above) was funded by the Six Points Fellowship, a program started by the Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Forward Files
An Unsustainable Model: Ofri Cnaani’s ‘Sota Project’ (pictured above) was funded by the Six Points Fellowship, a program started by the Foundation for Jewish Culture.

By Ezra Glinter

Published September 12, 2013, issue of September 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Rather than struggle to make up the difference, the board of the FJC decided that its programs would be better served in different institutional frameworks. According to Bernhardt and FJC board members, donor support for its programs remains strong, especially at the local level.

“I think we’ve been very successful, encouraging lots of Jewish cultural enterprises all over the place. And it’s made it harder to raise money for a national Jewish organization,” Bernhardt said.

“It just made a lot more sense in terms of how much we were able to spend on programs compared to how much we spend on making those programs happen,” FJC co-chair Allen Greenberg added. “It also makes sense leaving on a very high note.”

FJC programs include the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies; the Jewish Studies Expansion Program, which helps universities offer Jewish studies courses, and the New Jewish Culture Network, which commissions and tours music productions to cities around the United States. The latest project — “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book,” by Bosnian-born accordionist Merima Ključo — will go on the road in 2014. The American Academy in Jerusalem, which provides a 10-week fellowship for artists, architects and planners, will go ahead as planned this fall, and will possibly continue in coming years, though not under the auspices of the FJC.

For artists who have received grants from FJC programs, the support has been crucial to their careers. “Support is the word, because they really believe in artists and respect artists,” said Alicia Svigals, a musician whose multimedia concert, “The Yellow Ticket,” was commissioned by the Foundation’s New Jewish Culture Network. “They were looking to support interesting projects that were great for Jewish arts.”

“These are people who are incredibly passionate and energetic about supporting the arts and filmmakers at different stages of their careers,” added Jason Hutt, whose FJC-supported film, “Sukkah City,” premieres in New York’s Union Square on September 22. “It’s very important in terms of recognition, knowing that you have the support of a major organization within the Jewish community.”

As examples of a way forward for their programs, both Bernhardt and Greenberg point to organizations that were started by the FJC but have since become independent. These include the Association for Jewish Studies, founded in 1969, and the Council of American Jewish Museums, founded in 1977.

Still, they acknowledge that disbanding the FJC will leave a void in the Jewish world. “The notion that artists are so central to who we are — I don’t know who’s going to make that their central argument,” Bernhardt said. “But there are people out there who understand that really good work can be part of the Jewish conversation. And that gives me hope.”

Contact Ezra Glinter at glinter@forward.com or on Twitter, @EzraG


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • J.J. Goldberg doesn't usually respond to his critics. But this time, he just had to make an exception.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.