Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Future Pledge are partnering on a project urging all Jews to bequeath fifty percent of their estate charitable giving “to support Jewish people or the State of Israel.” Organizers predict this would amount to $600 billion in the coming years…
The project’s promotional video (see below) states: “Jews are the most influential people the world has ever known” and are “the most resilient, creative, transformative people the world has ever known…”
By Alison Weir
On October 25th Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) announced a partnership with Jewish Future Pledge that calls on “all Jews to sign a pledge that commits half or more of the charitable giving in their estate plan to support the Jewish people and/or the State of Israel.” This could result in $600 billion to Jewish causes and/or the State of Israel. (JFNA represents 146 Jewish Federations and 300 smaller communities across the United States and in Canada.)
JFNA explains: “Over the next 25 years, a mind-boggling $68 trillion will transfer to the next generation, with $6.3 trillion allocated to charity. We estimate that 20 percent of this allocation or $1.26 trillion charitable dollars will be given from Jewish donors. If Jewish donors designate half their donations to Israel/Jewish causes, the total is expected to be $600 billion.”
Jewish Future Pledge (JFP) was founded by pro-Israel donor Mike Leven. Leven first partnered with the Atlanta Jewish Federation on a trial project in in 2019, and then officially launched JFP in May 2020.
Signers of the pledge promise: “I hereby pledge that upon my passing, fifty percent or more of all my assets left for charitable purposes will be directed to efforts to strengthen and serve the Jewish people and/or the State of Israel.”
The JFP website features a promotional video that states “Jews are the most influential people the world has ever known.” It claims Jews were “the word’s first social critics,” “the first people to speak truth to power,” and are “the most resilient, creative, transformative, faith-defying people the world has ever known.” (The video is also on Youtube and Facebook.)
Jewish future Pledge personnel
Founder: Mark Leven:
Mr. Leven currently serves on the boards of The Marcus Foundation; AEPi Fraternity Foundation; Birthright Israel Foundation; Board of Advisors of Prager University; HERSHA Hospitality Trust; Independent Women’s Voice; Turning Point USA Board of Advisors and SESTRA Group.
Professionally, Mike ended his tenure in 2019 as the chairman and chief executive officer of the Georgia Aquarium to devote more time to charitable endeavors like the Jewish Future Pledge. In the past, he has served as president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation [Owned by billionaire campaign donor Sheldon Adelson], the chairman and chief executive officer of US Franchise Systems, the president and chief operating officer of Holiday Inn Worldwide, and the president of Days Inn of America.
Mr. Leven is a co-founder of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), an organization that has more than 19,000 members owning more than 40,000 hotels.
Co-founder: Amy Holtz:
Amy is a passionate advocate for the Jewish community and the State of Israel. In 2016, she was named one of the 50 most influential Jews by The Jerusalem Post.
Amy is a visionary leader and strategist with more than two decades of experience leading and growing businesses and nonprofits. In addition to working on the Jewish Future Pledge, Amy is CEO of Traction Specialists, which empowers entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders to build their businesses and reach their personal potential by implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).
From 1994 to 2007, Amy co-owned and operated a chain of 25 Party City stores. She previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Mosaic United [info here] and President of OpenDor Media (formerly Jerusalem U).
JFP Chairman: Mark Silberman:
Mark is a past president of Temple Kehillat Chaim in Roswell, Georgia, as well as a past national board member of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), where he served on the North American Camping (NAC) committee, budget committee, and business practices committee. He recently finished his tenure as chair of the board for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and has served on the Board of Trustees for the past eight years, as the campaign chair in 2017, on numerous Federation committees, and the national JFNA board.
Mark also serves on the board of Hillel’s of GA., the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, and the Alliance Theatre. He has been a primary funder and advocate of PJ Library and Jewish Camping in the Atlanta community and is a national board member of the Foundation for Jewish Camping.
The Advisory Board includes
• Abe Foxman, former longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), currently the ADL’s National Director Emeritus. Also Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.
• Bernie Marcus, the founder of Home Depot. Marcus recently gave $20 million to set up a new program that will “help to pay for trips to Israel for Jewish teens seeking a deeper connection to the country and their Jewish identity.” His net worth is $7.6 billion.
She is a Member of the Executive Committee and a Board Member of the Jewish Agency For Israel, is both Past Chair and a Board Member of the United Israel Appeal and is an Officer and a Board Member of the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. She also serves on the boards of the Jewish Federations of North America, Birthright Israel Foundation and the Michigan Council of AIPAC.
• Gidi Grinstein, Israeli founder and president of The Reut Institute, a Tel Aviv based institution, described by Tom Friedman of the New York Times as “Israel’s premier strategy group.”
• Julie Platt, member of JFNA Executive Committee, chair of 2020 JFNA General Assembly.
• Full list.
Jewish Federations of North America
JFNA’s website states that it represents 146 independent Federations and a network of 300 smaller communities across the continent, which raise more than $3 billion annually. “The Federation movement is collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent.”
One of its major objectives is to support Israel. Its website announces: “We helped to build Israel. Today we help keep it strong.”
In recent years JFNA has needed to increase its efforts in this endeavor. With the advent of the Internet, more and more Americans, including many Jewish Americans, have become aware of Israel’s long documented and ongoing human rights abuses. Most Americans feel the U.S. gives Israel too much money: currently over $10 million per day (on average, 7,000 times more per capita than to others around the world), with legislation for an additional $9 million per day on Israel’s behalf.
To counter this, JFNA has partnered with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs to create a strategic initiative called the Israel Action Network (IAN). This “educates, organizes and mobilizes the North American Jewish community” to “positively shape and lead the conversation about Israel.”
IAN advocates at the local, state, and federal level. It also works to “build relationships” with campus, religious, and civil leaders “to build a strong case for Israel.” And It specifically works to oppose “BDS,” the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement to pressure Israel to adhere to international law. BDS is based on the “principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.” Jewish Federations have played a role in pushing anti-boycott legislation around the United States.
One of IAN’s numerous projects is to partner with the American Zionist Movement to create a three-part series on Zionism and Jewish identity. (For information on Zionism see this.)
JFNA’s annual General Assembly is currently taking place as a virtual event. Below is the session about the Jewish Future Pledge:
What JFNA is enabling
Meanwhile, in the past few days Israeli soldiers destroyed a Palestinian home, uprooted dozens of Palestinian olive trees, abducted Palestinians, beat a Palestinian teen to death, demolished a village, and continue to keep Gazan men, women, and children in a virtual prison that it periodically bombs and invades.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.