Jerusalem Foundation

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The Jerusalem Foundation
Jerusalem Chords Bridge.JPG
Founded 1966
Founder Teddy Kollek
Type Nonprofit foundation
Focus Community development, culture, Jewish-Arab coexistence
Area served
Key people
Yohanna Arbib-Perugia, president
Nir Barkat, honorary chairman
Sallai Meridor, international chairman
$25 million annually[1]

The Jerusalem Foundation (Hebrew: הקרן לירושלים‎‎, HaKeren LiYerushalayim; Arabic: مؤسسة صندوق القدس‎‎) 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.[2][3] 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.[4] At the same time, the city suffered from poverty and overcrowding, with much of the population living in housing projects.[5] Hardly any neighborhoods had a park or playground.[6] 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.[5] Since its inception, the Foundation has furnished playgrounds and flower gardens for nearly every Jerusalem neighborhood,[2] contributing 350 out of the more than 1,000 parks, gardens and green spaces in the city.[6]

Politically, Kollek viewed the Foundation as a tool for pushing projects past a city council that was unable or unwilling to support them.[7] Kollek also leveraged matching funds from the municipality, government ministries, and non-governmental organizations for Foundation projects.[7][8]

Henry Crown Symphony Hall

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Similar models have been established by other Israeli cities.[8]

Organizational structure[edit]

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.[11]

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.[12] 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".[13]

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.[14] The present mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is an honorary chairman of The Jerusalem Foundation, and Israeli politician Sallai Meridor is the international chairman.[12]


Between 1966 and 1980, revenue from The Jerusalem Foundation accounted for 16 to 20 percent of the municipal budget.[15] 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.[16] In the early 2000s, this figure increased to $30 million per year.[17] In 2011 revenue was $25 million.[1]

The Jerusalem Foundation's 2010 annual report stated that it has raised over $800 million between 1966 and 2010.[18]


As of 2012 The Jerusalem Foundation has funded over 2,000 projects.[3][14] It has built many gardens, parks and woodlands throughout the city, as well as recreational sites.[19] 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.[2][3]

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.[20] 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".[21] It also sponsored Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish Arab Education in Israel, which promotes coexistence between Jews and Arabs.[22]

Flagship projects[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chernikoff, Helen (8 November 2011). "For 'Friends' Groups, A New Normal". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Sharkansky, Ira (July–August 1984). "Mayor Teddy Kollek and the Jerusalem Foundation: Governing the Holy City". Public Administration Review. Blackwell Publishing. 44 (4): 299–304. doi:10.2307/976075. 
  3. ^ a b c d Auerbach, Gedalia; Sharkansky, Ira (2007). Politics and Planning in the Holy City. Transaction Publishers. pp. 17–18. ISBN 076580381X. 
  4. ^ Berger, Marshall J.; Ahimeir, Ora (2002). Jerusalem: A city and its future. Syracuse University Press. p. 426. ISBN 0815629133. 
  5. ^ a b Green, David B. (2007). "Builder of Jerusalem: Teddy Kollek, 1911–2007" (PDF). The Jerusalem Foundation. Retrieved 29 April 2012. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b Deitz, Paula (8 January 1995). "Making a City Green". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Sharkansky, Ira (1987). The Political Economy of Israel. Transaction Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 0887381170. 
  8. ^ a b c Lehman-Wilzig, Sam N. (1992). Wildfire: Grassroots revolts in Israel in the post-socialist era. SUNY Press. p. 42. ISBN 079140871X. 
  9. ^ Shepherd, Naomi (1987). Teddy Kollek, Mayor of Jerusalem. Harper & Row. p. 27. ISBN 0060390840. 
  10. ^ "History". Tel Aviv-Yafo Foundation. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Organizational Structure". The Jerusalem Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 May 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Organizational Chart" (PDF). The Jerusalem Foundation. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "NJDC: Mazal Tov to Bernard Rapoport on Receiving the Teddy Kollek Award". National Jewish Democratic Council. 29 May 2009. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c d Pfeffer, Anshel (5 January 2012). "He wants to unite Jerusalem. And you thought your job was hard". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Dumper, Michael (1997). The Politics of Jerusalem Since 1967. Columbia University Press. p. 47. ISBN 0231106408. 
  16. ^ Sharkansky, Ira (1996). Governing Jerusalem: Again on the world's agenda. Wayne State University Press. p. 108. ISBN 0814325920. 
  17. ^ Auerbach and Sharkansky (2007), p. 19.
  18. ^ "Jerusalem Foundation 2010 Annual Report" (PDF). The Jerusalem Foundation. 30 April 2011. p. 5. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  19. ^ a b The New Encyclopædia Britannica. 22. 2003. p. 333. ISBN 0852299613. 
  20. ^ Cheshin, Amir; Hutman, Bill; Melamed, Avi (2001). Separate and Unequal: The inside story of Israeli rule in East Jerusalem. Harvard University Press. p. 191. ISBN 0674005538. 
  21. ^ Berger and Ahimeir (2002), p. 408.
  22. ^ Macintyre, Donald (18 October 2007). "Peace Studies: Children of Israel". The Independent. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  23. ^ a b c d e Rabinowitz, Gavin (22 March 2002). "'We don't need them anymore,' says Jerusalem Foundation boss as three top givers quit board". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  24. ^ "Founding Bodies: The Jerusalem Foundation". Jerusalem Film Festival. 2011. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  25. ^ "The History of the Park". Jerusalem Municipality. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 

External links[edit]