Foundation for Jewish Culture

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The Foundation for Jewish Culture (formerly the National Foundation for Jewish Culture) was the leading advocate for Jewish cultural life and creativity in the United States.

Founded in 1960, it supported writers, filmmakers, artists, composers, choreographers, and scholars, with grants and awards in the arts and humanities, and by sponsoring programs and national and international conferences.[1] In 2014, it wound down its programs and closed.[2]

The Foundation for Jewish culture invested in creative individuals, in an effort to sustain and grow a dynamic, enduring sense of Jewish identity, community, and culture. To this end, the Foundation provided grants, recognition awards, networking opportunities and professional development services to artists and scholars, made possible through collaboration with cultural institutions, Jewish organizations, consortia, and funders. The Foundation also worked to educate and build audiences for these artists and scholars, in order to provide meaningful Jewish cultural experiences to the American public, as well as advocated for the importance of Jewish culture as a core component of Jewish life.[3]



The Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film supports the completion of original documentaries that explore the Jewish experience in all its complexity. The fund was created with a lead grant from Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation and sustained over 10 years with major support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation. The priority of the fund is to support projects that address significant subjects; offer fresh, challenging perspectives; engage audiences across cultural lines; and expand the understanding of Jewish experiences.

Among its recipients have been Trembling Before G-d, the critically acclaimed animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, and the upcoming Sidney Lumet: The Moral Lens.



The Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers, established in 1999 and supported through a generous grant from the Samuel Goldberg & Sons Foundation, is among the very first of its kind to highlight new works by contemporary writers exploring Jewish themes. The prize spotlights promising new talent, and is awarded to an American fiction writer for a first or second full-length work that was published in the previous calendar year.[5]


The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies encourages scholarly research, publication and teaching in the various disciplines of Jewish studies. Established in 1960, fellowships have been awarded to over 600 scholars, including many leaders in the field. The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies are made for one academic year and are given for the final stages of completing an English-language dissertation, typically in the fifth year of study.[6]

The Jewish Studies Expansion Program (JSEP) was established in 2008 in response to significant data that showed Jewish studies courses to have the potential to attract students who might not otherwise engage in Jewish life on campus. JSEP creates more opportunities for Jewish learning and engagement at universities that have relatively large Jewish student populations but only limited ability to offer Jewish studies courses and related extracurricular activities. A JSEP matching grant permits the hire of a two-year postdoctoral teaching fellow who expands the number of courses offered and helps raise the profile of Jewish studies through cultural programs and other campus activities.[7]

The Sidney and Hadassah Musher Subvention Grant for First Book in Jewish Studies supports, on a biannual basis, the publication of an outstanding first book project by a recent Ph.D. The prize recognizes the originality, scope, and scholarly rigor of any first book published within approved categories related to Jewish studies.[8]

Inside the Docs[edit]

Inside the Docs is a free, educational program that uses Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film grantees to engage adults 18-30 in thought-provoking conversations about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Jewish identity. Each Inside the Docs film series, composed of three to four films, is based on a topic such as “New Perspectives on Israel,” “Social Justice/Jewish Values,” or “Identity and Inclusion.” [9]

American Academy in Jerusalem[edit]

Modeled on the successes of the American Academy in Rome and the American Academy in Berlin, the American Academy in Jerusalem is a new fellowship for senior-level artists and cultural leaders. The program provides each Fellow with travel to Israel, accommodations for nine weeks, a living stipend, and additional resources to develop individual projects emphasizing social engagement. The Foundation for Jewish Culture established the Academy in order to participate in a larger civic effort to strengthen Jerusalem as an international destination for art and culture. During their stay in Jerusalem, Fellows work with local cultural and/or academic institutions where they teach master classes, serve as mentors, or otherwise participate in the life of these institutions in order to interact with their peers. The Fellows engage with Jerusalem’s diverse populations through projects emphasizing social engagement and make public presentations about their current work in Israel when they return to the United States.[10][11] [12][13]


New Jewish Culture Network, an initiative to create and deliver outstanding Jewish music and other art forms to audiences in the U.S. and beyond, was established in 2011. The Foundation for Jewish culture and its network of partner presenters commission artists for cross-country tours of musical performance and accompanying educational workshops.[14]

Encounter Culture[edit]

Encounter Culture brings together artists and scholars with lovers of Jewish Culture in unique and intimate settings. Sponsors and their guests partner with Foundation grantees from a myriad of artistic and scholarly backgrounds to deepen connections, explore the creative process, and discuss what constitutes Jewish Culture today.[15]

Partner Organizations[edit]

The Council of American Jewish Museums[edit]

The Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Foundation for Jewish Culture and is committed to strengthening the Jewish museum field in North America. Through training of museum staff and volunteers, information exchange, and advocacy on behalf of Jewish museums, CAJM assists its institutional, individual, and affiliate members as they educate and inspire diverse audiences on all aspects of Jewish culture and history.[16][17]

Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists[edit]

The Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists supports individual artists who want to develop new projects with a Jewish focus, theme, or element. It is a strategic partnership of Avoda Arts, Foundation for Jewish Culture, and JDub Records. The fellowship is based on the belief that creative expression is essential to Jewish community, identity, and meaning, and the fellowship was created to support the artists who contribute to that process. The two-year program provides emerging artists working in music, visual arts, and performing arts with a living stipend, financial project support, professional development workshops, and ongoing peer and professional-led learning opportunities.[18][19][20]

All About Jewish Theatre[edit]

The online publication of Plays of Jewish Interest, compiled by the Foundation, is available on All About Jewish Theatre, the global Web site to promote and enhance Jewish theater and performing arts worldwide. This resource includes approximately 1,500 plays, along with comprehensive information regarding authors, cast and casting requirements, production notes and history, subject matter, synopses, script sources and reviews. The database can be searched using a variety of criteria, and contributions may be submitted so that the list grows and stays up to date. The Foundation published the first version in 1982, as a resource for theater companies, scholars, and educators. Edited by Michael Posnick and Dr. Ellen Schiff, the 2007 expanded edition focuses primarily on Jewish plays written in and translated into English, as well as Israeli and Yiddish theater. All About Jewish Theatre was initiated, designed, and launched by Moti Sandak.[21][22]

In 2010 Mark Ejlenberg joined as a new chairman.[citation needed]

Schusterman Visiting Artist Program[edit]

One of the largest organized residency programs of Israeli artists ever to launch in the U.S., the Schusterman Visiting Artist Program began in fall 2008 and offers unprecedented opportunities for Americans to experience Israeli culture. The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation supports the Schusterman Visiting Artists Program to provide Israeli artists from various disciplines with time spent in North America. These residencies last for two to four months and take place at some of the nation’s most esteemed universities, museums, and other cultural organizations. The program has a special focus on fostering high levels of interaction between the artists and the local communities where they are based. The goal of the new program is to engage American audiences with Israeli artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and choreographers. Also, the program is intended to provide professional development experiences and cultural exposure for Israeli artists outside their home country.[23][24]

Board Members[edit]

Board Co-Chairs Judith Ginsberg and Marc Stanley

President and CEO Elise M. Bernhardt

Vice Chairs Naomi Caspe and Jean Friedman

Treasurer Allen Greenberg

Secretary S. Fitzgerald Haney

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About the Foundation for Jewish Culture
  2. ^ "Jewish Foundation for Culture To Shutter Next Year". Jewish Daily Forward. September 12, 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
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