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Reopening New Grantmaking

Dear friends, colleagues, and fellow travelers,  
Two months ago, I joined the team at Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah in the midst of a robust strategizing process and immediately jumped into the work. I’m excited to be writing today with an update about that strategic planning, and to share that as we continue our strategizing, we will be reopening our grantmaking for new, one-year grants
In my years working in the Jewish world, I’ve led and participated in many strategizing and planning processes. In so many of these instances, I find myself returning to the famous (or infamous) story of the twelve scouts (also known as spies) sent by God and Moses to explore the Land of Canaan and report back (Numbers 13-14). Having left Egypt and trekked for weeks through the bare and treacherous wilderness, the Israelites are finally a short walk from their destination, when God has the idea to send a scouting party ahead. Upon their return, the scouts dutifully report all they have seen, both the good and bad, to the entire assembly of Moses, Aaron, and all the Israelites. Before anyone can respond, Caleb, one of the twelve, tries to light a spark in the masses: “Let us by all means go up,” he shouts, “and we shall gain possession of it!” The rest of the episode devolves from there: ten of the scouts react to what they see as Caleb’s overconfidence by inciting the crowd into a frenzy of fear and doubt – “we should return to Egypt,” some cry – and, ultimately, what began with thoughtful planning ends with mission failure. The Israelites have to spend another forty years in the wilderness before they get another chance to enter the land. 
Over the last two months, I’ve been thinking about what I see as the story’s lessons of patience and partnership. 
When it comes to patience, I can’t help but note that Caleb’s zeal, while admirable, did not leave much time or space for anyone to digest the scouts’ report. The people had no chance to ask questions about what the news meant for them, and Moses did not have the opportunity to offer a practical strategy for defeating or sneaking past the giants. As for partnership, Caleb’s solo performance hints at a deeper problem – that, despite being on the same mission, the twelve scouts acted as twelve individuals rather than as collaborators pursuing a shared goal. They could have worked with each other – and with Moses and Aaron – to make sense of what they found and to make a plan before they shared their findings with the rest of the community. But they didn’t find a way to turn a collection of individual experiences into collective wisdom.
At the Foundation, we see all of you – past, present, and prospective grantees, fellow funders, aligned thinkers – as our fellow scouts in the mission of helping Jews and fellow travelers apply Jewish wisdom to thrive and shape a better world. As such, we want to heed the lesson of the biblical tale and practice good partnership. We also want to make sure we’re patient in our strategizing so that our plans have the greatest chance possible of helping us achieve our mission. 
With all that in mind, we see the new, one-year grant cycle for discrete projects and programs that we’re announcing today as part of our continued strategic planning process. By reopening our grantmaking to the public, we hope to broaden our group of fellow scouts; and, while we intend to begin making longer term grants in 2024 and beyond, we do also humbly ask for patience as we spend the rest of 2023 continuing to plan, with more of you in the mix. At this link, please find more details about our open call for Letters of Introduction (LOI), which we will be accepting from now until the end of June. 
I’m so excited about the work of the Foundation moving forward and about the prospect of working together with you to explore new possibilities for the Jewish present and future. Stay tuned for more news from us in the months ahead.