Philanthropy has existed in Israelsince the end of the 19th century, during the period of the Zionist yishuv. At that time, philanthropists contributed to the establishment of the yishuv, and today philanthropic activities are sponsored by the national institutions in the State Israel, with support from foundations such as the United Israel Fund. In addition, organizations such as the Jewish Agency for Israeland the Israel Joint Distribution Committee have engaged in raising funds from Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
In the 21st century, philanthropy has played a major role in promoting social issues in Western countries and in Israel, as well as in other spheres such as science, culture, education, welfare, and efforts to combat poverty and inequality. This process has been influenced by the reduction of government involvement in these spheres, and by the increased power of the free market. Besides the established philanthropic organizations, recent years have witnessed the emergence of “new philanthropy”, where new philanthropists have entered the arena of philanthropy.
Notwithstanding the rewards inherent in the traditional roles of philanthropy and despite the public discourse on the topic, there is a serious dearth of knowledge about the scope of philanthropy, the directions of its development, and its impact on Israeli society.
The Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Israelat the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, established in 2006 incooperation with the Israel-Joint Distribution Committee, aims to enhance existing knowledge in the field and to provide an appropriate academic framework for achieving that goal. The Center will operate in cooperation with the Joseph Schwartz Graduate Program in Management of Community and Nonprofit Organizations at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The Vision of the Center
The Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Israel will engage in efforts to develop and promote basic and applied research knowledge on philanthropy in Israel and in Jewish communities throughout the world.
The Center will focus on research projects which explore the development of philanthropy in Israeland in Jewish communities throughout the world, and examine how those philanthropic activities have contributed to society. The research findings will serve as a basis for expanding the Center’s efforts to develop academic curricula and enrichment programs in the field of philanthropy.
The main goals of the Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Israel are:
- To promote understanding of philanthropy in Israeland in Jewish communities throughout the world.
- To study the role of philanthropy in modern democracies.
- To develop, gather, and disseminate knowledge on the sources of Jewish philanthropy and philanthropy in Israel, and to generate additional sources of philanthropy in Israel.
- To create a comprehensive database of major foundations and agencies that actively engage in philanthropic efforts in Israel. The database will serve as a source of knowledge for academic scholars and the general public.
- To disseminate knowledge on philanthropy in Israel: sources, patterns, traditions, and consequences for Israeli society.
- To enhance philanthropic activity.