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Welcome to the November edition of the Jewish Future Pledge newsletter, covering:

  • Co-Founder of and Travel Funders Network Bob Diener on why he still starts new companies and why he took the pledge
  • Rich Polt on practical tips for promoting connectedness around the table this Thanksgiving
  • Everything new and newsworthy at the Jewish Future Pledge, including an op-ed by Artist for Israel CEO Craig Dershowitz on how the Jewish Future Pledge gave him a seat at the table to give Jewishly and progressively!

Pledger Spotlight: Bob Diener
Philanthropist, Board of Directors for AIPAC, Israel Bonds and the Hasbara Fellowships, and Co-Founder of | Miami, FL Diener is a one-of-a-kind guy – a kite surfing, Cornell-trained lawyer turned visionary entrepreneur who wrote the book (literally) on “Biblical Secrets to Business Success.” Bob is also a deeply generous and principled philanthropist, providing support to organizations such as AIPAC, Hasbara Fellowships, and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, among others. “We are here to make the world a better place,” he says. “The only way to truly feel fulfilled is to give back.” 

What did you think when you first heard about the Jewish Future Pledge, and why did you ultimately sign? 

When I first heard of the Jewish Future Pledge, my immediate reaction was, “Sign me up!” One of the reasons that I still start new businesses is to build more assets in my foundation, to have more to give away (plus, it’s fun to build things from scratch!). I keenly feel the responsibility to steward my blessings. The Pledge, to me, is a no-brainer. Even before signing, my wife Michelle and I had put a great deal of thought into Jewish legacy giving and specified that at least 75% of our giving must go to Jewish and/or Israeli causes. We believe it is part of our responsibility as Jews to make sure that we provide for the future of our community and people. 

What conversations have come up since you have signed the pledge? 

Since signing the Jewish Future Pledge, we have increased our conversations about giving with family and friends and have made a point to integrate our children into those conversations. We have also shifted from making decisions by ourselves to involving our children in the process. It’s essential to share with them the Jewish values behind the money that we give–and the best way to do this is through teaching by action and example. Every day, I try to think, “What’s my purpose in the world?” “How can I be most impactful with my time and resources?” and to model that in everything I do. 

What is one Jewish value you carry with you in your daily life? 

The most important value I carry daily is the idea of family and providing for the next generation—ensuring L’Dor V'Dor. This is an essential part of why I believe in the Jewish Future Pledge. Several years back, I wrote an ethical will, reflecting on the values I live by and wish to pass on to the next generation. It was a very meaningful experience to share this with my kids—I know that the values I hope to have taught them in my lifetime are worth far more than any material asset I leave behind to them. 

Your legacy is not just advancing your career. It’s thinking about your family, constantly growing as a person, and being involved in your community. For me, learning Torah, studying with my kids, and providing for the community now and in the future keeps me feeling balanced, like I’m looking at my life and trying to maximize my purpose on this earth. Everyone has a mission. Our goal is to find it – and do it.

Hanukkah Conversation Cards Hanukkah, we gather to celebrate the miracle that is the Jewish people. It is the perfect time to share with your family and friends why the Jewish tradition matters to you. To spark these conversations, we have created a fun and easy-to-use deck of Hanukkah conversation cards. 

View and download the 15-card deck here.

How To: Promote Connectedness at Family Gatherings like Thanksgiving and Holiday Meals many households, the conversation at the table when families gather can easily lead to a cornucopia of snarky, half-serious, political quips. Let’s face it, it can sometimes get a little tense. But the truth is, family gatherings can also be an opportunity to come together, build bridges, and enjoy a well-timed reprieve from the divisiveness of the day. 

With the right disposition, we can raise the bar from mere civility to actual connectedness. Here are three things you can try in an effort to bridge divides and infuse greater meaning into your family gatherings:

  1. If political talk is only going to raise ire, let us bite our tongues, agree to disagree and move on.
  2. Focus on that which brings our family together: shared history, common experiences, and group stories. Take time to reminisce and be inquisitive. We may not see eye to eye on all issues, but there is certainly common ground to be celebrated and explored.
  3. Ask questions that aren’t rooted in current events, such as “What inspires you?” or “What was one of the most exciting things that happened to you this year?”
Wishing everyone an open, engaging, and unifying family gathering whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or a Shabbat dinner.

Rich Polt helps families celebrate, preserve, and share their legacies. His company, Acknowledge Media, produces documentary-style life story films, built upon recorded conversations with loved ones. Adapted from an article in JMORE Baltimore Jewish Living. 

View more Jewish Future Pledge resources to share your story and spark conversations here.

New and Newsworthy Jew, poor Jew: Giving without limitations, eJewish Philanthropy 

In a recent op-ed published by eJewish Philanthropy, Artist for Israel CEO Craig Dershowitz discusses why he felt compelled to take the Jewish Future Pledge after previously feeling like he didn’t have a seat at the table to give Jewishly. In his piece, Craig discusses how learning about the pledge inspired him-- knowing that anyone, wealthy or not--can give both Jewishly and progressively for causes that create a thriving Jewish future.

The Legacy of Elie Wiesel November 9, the Jewish Future Pledge held a webinar with Elisha Wiesel, activist, philanthropist and son of Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. The webinar was moderated by David Suissa, president of The Jewish Journal, and featured remarks from Elisha’s children and wife on how the Wiesel family is working to continue Elie’s legacy while strengthening the Jewish world. 

Missed it? Watch it here!

Donor Advised Funds: A Good Time to Revisit and Old Friend, eJewish Philanthropy 

“One increasingly popular philanthropic instrument that remains untouched by the new law are Donor Advised Funds (DAF), along with the rules and regulations that monitor them. These funds have long been emerging as a preferred vehicle for many, largely—though not exclusively—high net worth individuals, supporting nonprofit causes. The fact that the tax law left them untouched means that now is a perfect time to refocus on and revisit these increasingly important modes of giving, and sources for funding nonprofits.” legacy will live on long after you do, Cleveland Jewish News 

“It wasn’t until I began working in philanthropy that I began to understand the true meaning of legacy – ensuring your life’s work can continue long after you’re gone. It’s your personal value statement. There are many ways to leave a legacy. There are creative ways to support an organization you care about so that you, the organization and your loved ones all benefit at the same time.”


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