That seems like the perfect title for this first blog. As I continue to settle into my role as President and CEO at the Jim Joseph Foundation, I feel welcomed by my colleagues, the Foundation Board, and so many of you who have sent congratulatory notes over the last month. For this, I want to express sincere thanks.

I have, first and foremost, a deep sense of responsibility—to the Foundation’s grantees, Board, my colleagues, peer funders, and other individuals with whom we interact. Jim Joseph, z”l, left an indelible gift. Working inside (and often outside) these walls is an ongoing reminder of how fortunate we are to carry out the vision that Jim so clearly outlined. 

As 2017 approaches, the Foundation continues its leadership transitions. After over a decade of service, Founding Board Member Phyllis Cook has completed her term on the Foundation Board. Along with the Foundation, the entire field of Jewish education has benefitedand will continue to benefitfrom Phyllis's wisdom and dedication. Additionally, Al Levitt served as the Foundation’s President and Board Chair since the Foundation’s inception. He was a close friend of Jim’s and worked tirelessly to lead the Board through the Foundation’s first decade. His commitment to Jewish education has helped the Foundation influence the field in deep and long-lasting ways. Just a few days ago, at our recent Board meeting, Al stepped down as Chair. We are forever grateful to Al, and are fortunate that he will remain on the Board through June of 2017. We also are proud and excited to have Dan Safier as the Foundation's new Chair. Dan has been on the Board for the past three years and has been an active lay leader in many local and national Jewish organizations.

In the months and years ahead, we hope to share relevant insights, findings, developments, and other news with you through our new newsletter, A Closer Look. So, to you as well, welcome in, and please do take a closer look. Learn more about the grantees on the ground doing the educator training or creating meaningful Jewish learning experiences or helping to build the field. Learn about the evaluators on whom we rely to help determine what is working and what, if anything, might need course correction. And learn about our peer funders and colleagues in the field with whom we collaborate in increasingly deeper and more meaningful ways. It is these collective efforts that create vibrant Jewish life and advance Jewish education.

On a personal note, I look forward to being in touch and seeing you at various conferences and gatherings. I also welcome your feedback and thoughts on Foundation matters.

Wishing you a happy Chanukkah and a 2017 full of health, happiness, and peace,

Barry Finestone
President and CEO
News and Notes from Grantees
Recent Blogs
Any Given Sunday: San Diego’s Jewish Teen Service Summit
Program Officer Jeff Tiell offers insights on the successful Teen Service Summit hosted by the  new Motiv Initiative in San Diego.  READ MORE
A Reform Camper in Hevruta Study
Program Officer Aaron Saxe shares his eye-opening experience at Mechon Hadar and his newfound appreciation for the relevance of Jewish text to his life. READ MORE
Education Initiative with HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU 
Featured Grantees
Alpha Epsilon Pi
As the only international Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) is uniquely positioned to engage young Jewish men during their formative college years. Its local chapters offer day-to-day opportunities for these individuals to connect with Jewish peers and to positively influence their communities. READ MORE 
The Institute for Curriculum Services
In public and private schools across the country, millions of students each year learn about Judaism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and other related areas. For these learning experiences to be both positive and grounded in fact, educators leading them need relevant professional development opportunities and support. READ MORE