|Key people||Mark Sofer, president
Nir Barkat, honorary chairman
Sallai Meridor, international chairman
|Focus(es)||Community development, culture, Jewish-Arab coexistence|
|Revenue||$25 million annually|
The Jerusalem Foundation (Hebrew: הקרן לירושלים, HaKeren LiYerushalayim) is a nonprofit foundation that promotes the development of the city of Jerusalem, Israel by raising funds for social, cultural and beautification projects. Established in 1966 by Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, it has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the city's budget and established parks, gardens, forests, recreational sites, theaters, and museums; restored ancient sites, synagogues, mosques, and churches; funded community and social centers, preschool centers, and health clinics; and sponsored archeological excavations, scholarships, and cultural events. The Jerusalem Foundation is unique in its structure and mission, as it funds municipal projects with private donations from international sources.
When Kollek became mayor of Jerusalem in 1965, it was a divided city, separated into Arab and Jewish sectors as a result of the 1949 Armistice Agreements. One of Kollek's objectives for The Jerusalem Foundation was to use it to build world Jewry's support for the development of Jewish Jerusalem. At the same time, the city suffered from poverty and overcrowding, with much of the population living in housing projects. Hardly any neighborhoods had a park or playground. The Jerusalem Foundation's first initiative was the establishment of public parks in a few of the city's poorest neighborhoods, with funds donated by New York supporters. Since its inception, the Foundation has furnished playgrounds and flower gardens for nearly every Jerusalem neighborhood, contributing 350 out of the more than 1,000 parks, gardens and green spaces in the city.
Politically, Kollek viewed the Foundation as a tool for pushing projects past a city council that was unable or unwilling to support them. Kollek also leveraged matching funds from the municipality, government ministries, and non-governmental organizations for Foundation projects.
While the Foundation is chaired by the mayor of Jerusalem, it is independent of the Finance Ministry and state-related charities such as the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization. From the donors' point of view, this means more transparency for their contributions. Unlike state-sponsored charities like the United Jewish Appeal, for example, in which donations are funneled directly into Finance Ministry coffers, donors know exactly what they are supporting with their contributions to The Jerusalem Foundation. This transparency has given the name to such projects as the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, the Walter and Elise Haas Promenade, the Vivienne and Maurice Wohl Rose Park, and the Rebecca Crown Auditorium and Henry Crown Symphony Hall at the Jerusalem Theater, among many others.
The Jerusalem Foundation became a model for the Tel Aviv Foundation, which Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat established in 1977 upon the advice of Kollek. Similar models have been established by other Israeli cities.
The organizational structure of The Jerusalem Foundation includes a General Assembly staffed by leading business and academic figures in Jerusalem and around the world. The General Assembly meets biannually to discuss the financial outlays and work plan of the Foundation. It also elects the members of the Board of Directors, which convenes every four to six weeks to supervise activities in the areas of overseas/fundraising, projects, technical and finance.
The Jerusalem Foundation is politically unaffiliated. Based in Jerusalem, it maintains fund-raising desks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Canada. It holds regular fundraising events in major Jewish centers. It has awarded its Teddy Kollek Award annually since 1999 to those who have "made outstanding contributions to advancing the social, cultural, educational, and physical development of the city of Jerusalem".
Founding president Ruth Cheshin served in this capacity from 1966 to 2011. She was succeeded in October 2011 by Mark Sofer, a former Israeli ambassador to Ireland and India. The present mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is an honorary chairman of The Jerusalem Foundation, and Israeli politician Sallai Meridor is the international chairman.
Between 1966 and 1980, revenue from The Jerusalem Foundation accounted for 16 to 20 percent of the municipal budget. Between 1966 and 1991, The Jerusalem Foundation contributed $245 million to the city's development. Between 1991 and 1996, its income from contributions was estimated at $20 million per year. In the early 2000s, this figure increased to $30 million per year. In 2011 revenue was $25 million.
The Jerusalem Foundation's 2010 annual report stated that it has raised over $800 million between 1966 and 2010.
As of 2012 The Jerusalem Foundation has funded over 2,000 projects. It has built many gardens, parks and woodlands throughout the city, as well as recreational sites. It has sponsored restorations of ancient and historic sites – notably the Jewish Quarter in the Old City – and renovated synagogues, mosques, and churches. It has funded community and social centers, preschool centers, and health clinics; provided studios and housing for visiting artists and intellectuals; and sponsored archeological excavations, scholarships, artists workshops, and a wide variety of cultural events.
The Jerusalem Foundation has also contributed to Arab neighborhoods, though not to the same extent as Jewish ones. As mayor, Kollek often solicited overseas donors through The Jerusalem Foundation to pay for projects in the Arab sector that the city could not sponsor and the national government refused to fund. The Jerusalem Foundation sponsored the Sheikh Jarrah Health Centre, "a Beit Hanina sports field, playgrounds in several Arab neighborhoods, and improvements at Abdallah Ibn Hussein Technology School, which enabled the school to become an accredited technical college". It also sponsored Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish Arab Education in Israel, which promotes coexistence between Jews and Arabs.
- Bloomfield Science Museum
- Haas Promenade
- Israel Museum
- Jerusalem Music Centre
- Jerusalem Cinematheque
- Jerusalem Park, a greenbelt encircling the walls of the Old City
- Mishkenot Sha'ananim Konrad Adenauer Conference Center
- Old City restoration and infrastructure upgrades
- Rebecca Crown Auditorium and Henry Crown Symphony Hall at the Jerusalem Theater
- Teddy Stadium
- Tower of David Museum
- Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo)
- Wohl Rose Park
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