Some recent news items indicate a misunderstanding of the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s mission and its democratically run operations, and so require a response. (“JCC Festival Accused Of Hurting Israel,” Feb. 4, and “Culture Group Rebuffs Bid To Condemn Boycotts,” Dec. 31). Our mission is to invest in creative individuals in order to nurture a vibrant and enduring Jewish identity, culture and community. We are one of the relatively few organizations in the Jewish world to support individual artists and scholars, and we have been doing so for 50 years.
Fully half of the Jewish studies programs in the U.S. have one or more faculty members who have received our support, while our Jewish Studies Expansion Program has enhanced Jewish studies at 12 colleges and universities. We facilitate the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists program to promote cross-cultural dialogue in the U.S., and our new American Academy in Jerusalem, modeled on the prestigious academies in Rome and Berlin, will bring influential American artists and thought leaders to Israel.
The films that receive support from the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film are selected in a rigorous, two-tiered system during which they are evaluated by filmmakers, distributors, critics and Jewish studies scholars. They are then submitted to the board’s executive committee for review. Even our most challenging documentaries receive glowing reviews from the Jewish and secular press.
In the fall, the executive committee voted against endorsing a resolution which in practice would have run counter to our mission and conflicted with the Jewish values of dialogue and the free exchange of ideas which we hold dear.
We abhor boycotts of Israel. Every day, we work passionately to build bridges between America and the energetic, diverse democracy that is Israel. And we work equally to encourage the creativity of artists and scholars, without whom the Jewish community would be a much poorer place.
Dr. Judith Ginsberg, Co-chair
S. Fitzgerald Haney, Co-chair
President and CEO
Foundation for Jewish Culture