Leili Davari, Tonda Case, Rebekkah Scharf and Ilana Kaufman discuss intersectionality and Jewish women of color at a July 21, 2019 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival panel. (Photo/Barak Shrama-Courtesy San Francisco Jewish Film Festival)
(From left) Leili Davari, Tonda Case, Rebekkah Scharf and Ilana Kaufman discuss intersectionality and Jewish women of color at a July 21, 2019 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival panel. (Photo/Barak Shrama-Courtesy San Francisco Jewish Film Festival)

‘Racial Equity Informed Philanthropy’: Guide offers new framework for Jewish giving

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

The Jews of Color Initiative, a Bay Area-based racial justice nonprofit, has released its first-ever Jewish guide to giving through a racial equity lens.

Together with the Slingshot Fund, a New York nonprofit dedicated to organizing young Jewish philanthropists, JoCI last month published “Racial Equity Informed Philanthropy: A Funder Resource from a Jewish Perspective.” The guide is aimed at funders and philanthropists in the Jewish community, but JoCI executive director Ilana Kaufman sees its value for a wider audience.

“If you care about Jews and Judaism, if you care about racial justice and equity, if you care about what happens in philanthropic spaces, I think there’s something in there for everyone,” she said.

The guide, available to download for free on the Slingshot website, has chapters written by different leaders in the JoCI community addressing the history of racism in the United States, Jewish wisdom on creating change, and how to center racial justice in charitable giving.

Kaufman’s writing appears in two chapters, one on how to use the resource and another on how to apply the guide’s contents to philanthropic work.

We need to wonder about the power of philanthropy in terms of shifting power in this country.

As philanthropy is an integral part of the Jewish community, both religiously and historically, it is important that funders consider questions of racial justice in their giving, Kaufman said. Racial diversity in the Jewish community is no longer a theoretical prospect, she said, citing a 2020 Pew study finding that nearly 30% of Jews under the age of 30 identify as either non-white, Sephardic, Mizrahi or the children of non-European immigrants.

“We need to wonder as a community about how race and racism informs our community, we need to wonder about how…issues of racial injustice have affected the Jewish community,” Kaufman said. “And we need to wonder about the power of philanthropy in terms of shifting power in this country.”

Included in the guide is an essay by the founder and executive director of another Bay Area organization. Analucía Lopezrevoredo started Jewtina y Co in 2019, which aims to nurture and celebrate the Latin Jewish community. Her piece, “Moving from funding based on shared values to core values,” addresses how to look beyond one’s own biases when giving.

Analucía Lopezrevoredo
Analucía Lopezrevoredo

Jewish philanthropy is driven by a set of values that is often limited to what an individual donor has experienced, Lopezrevoredo said. The move to “core values,” as she puts it, is to consider that others may have different but equally valid experiences with what being Jewish means to them personally.

“As we move to be more racially sustainable, more equitable in the field, we need to be able to also kind of look outside of [where] we’ve always felt comfort,” she said.

Philanthropy has always been central to the American Jewish experience, Lopezrevoredo said, noting that the practice is not as common in Latin American countries. Centering racial equity and justice in Jewish philanthropy is necessary to continuing the tradition, she said.

For donors looking to give more equitably, Kaufman suggested beginning by considering where their funds have gone in the past and where they could be best used now. She encouraged readers to have an interactive experience with the JoCI’s guide, think critically and engage in self-reflection about the lessons of the text.

“I’m excited for people to use it, to interact with it, to gauge it and then to have more questions about it,” Kaufman said.

Lillian Ilsley-Greene
Lillian Ilsley-Greene

Lillian Ilsley-Greene was a staff writer at J. from 2022-2023.