Founded in 2005 under the leadership of Michael Steinhardt and the late William Davidson, the Areivim Philanthropic Group is a unique consortium of major North American philanthropists committed to developing and supporting transformational projects. Areivim works to significantly impact the next generation of Jews through formal and experiential Jewish, Hebrew, and Israel education.
Our partners meet several times a year to identify the challenges of our time and brainstorm how they, as dedicated philanthropists, can develop and support projects to enhance Jewish life in North America. Areivim Working Groups in the past have focused on the areas of Jewish Part-time Education, Jewish Early Childhood Education, the Potential of the Synagogue, Israel Engagement, Modern Hebrew Language, Israel Branding and Advocacy, and more. Once a project is launched as a result of the efforts of a particular Working Group, group members help transition the project to the next level. With Working Groups engaged with academic advisors and consultants to help achieve our goals, Areivim has enjoyed a successful track record of creating transformative projects.
For example, the Areivim Philanthropic Group dreamed up Hebrew Public: Charter Schools for Global Citizens and the Hebrew at Camp/Kayitz Kef Hebrew Language Immersion Program in Day Camps.
Hebrew Public started with one school in 2009 and now serves over 3,500 students on 10 campuses in grades ranging from Pre-K to 8th grade. Hebrew Public is leading a national movement of exceptional diverse public charter schools that teach Modern Hebrew to children of all backgrounds and prepare them to become successful global citizens.
The Hebrew Public team worked tirelessly to plan for a safe reopening the fall of 2020. All Hebrew Public schools across the country have their own reopening plans. In New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, schools are reopening with a hybrid model combining remote and in-person learning.
The Working Group on Modern Hebrew Language developed the Hebrew at Camp/Kayitz Kef Program in 2013. Kayitz Kef gives American Jewish youth the ability to converse in Modern Israeli Hebrew and to own contemporary Israeli culture as part of who they are. An independent evaluation of the project has shown that returning campers are able to regain the language ability achieved during the previous summer after only two weeks and are then able to grow to even higher levels of proficiency. Beginning with one pilot program at Camp Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, New York, during the summer of 2013, Kayitz Kef served 625 campers in 2019.
Areivim’s Kayitz Kef/Hebrew at Camp program was primed for a summer of growth and change in 2020. Five new camps had made the decision to join our network to bring an engaging Hebrew immersion program to their campers. Kayitz Kef was already on track to reach its goal of over 800 campers; the camps had already recruited 490 campers by early March, exceeding the enrollment reached by the same time in 2019. However, the COVID-19 crisis required Kayitz Kef to pivot and restructure the program. Kayitz Kef met the challenge of the pandemic and adapted its programs and created new partnerships. Kayitz Kef successfully delivered engaging Hebrew programs to children it had not reached previously and in more diverse ways than before. The summer of 2020 looked very different from previous years, but Kayitz Kef rose to the occasion and even in the midst of a pandemic brought Hebrew to campers in more ways than before. From full immersion programming to tastes of Hebrew for entire camps, Kayitz Kef engaged nearly 2,000 campers in Hebrew this summer, more than double the expectation!
Other projects that Areivim endorses and works with include Onward Israel, OneTable, TAMID Group, and the Jewish Food Society.
OneTable's mission is to make Shabbat dinner accessible to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would be absent from Jewish community. OneTable provides hosts and guests with easily accessible tools and resources, making these rituals not only attainable, but sustainable. OneTable pivoted from being the largest supporter of in-person young adult Shabbat dinners to being the national nonprofit focusing on all the ways Shabbat dinner can happen during a pandemic. While in-person OneTable Shabbat dinners still take place for roommates, and also safely outdoors and socially distanced, OneTable is additionally supporting solo and virtual Shabbat dinners. Recent impact research has shown that Shabbat is more important for young adults now than ever before, revealing a marked increase in Shabbat observance during the pandemic.
OneTable has also released resources to help guide participants through this challenging time and launched OneTable Live, ensuring that guests always have a place to go for Shabbat. OneTable has also begun to find ways that its technology and wisdom can help address the needs of the larger community. For Passover, OneTable launched Seder2020, connecting 36,000 people with the resources to conduct virtual Sederim. A similar initiative was organized for the High Holidays called Here for. OneTable also produces THE PAUSE, a year-long series of content to inspire people of all ages, life stages, and religious practices to slow down at the end of the week and taste Shabbat, pausing long enough to imagine the world as it could be.
The Jewish Food Society’s mission is to honor and revitalize Jewish culinary traditions by preserving beloved Jewish recipes and celebrating new ones. In response to the challenges of COVID-19, the Jewish Food Society has expanded its mission to provide meaningful content to the community at large and to support the community of Jewish and Israeli restaurants in NYC.
The Jewish Food Society’s online initiative Tradish: Connect With Your Family Through Cooking is a series of online cooking demos, events, and resources designed to help people find comfort and connection during this very unsettling and chaotic time. One of the most successful elements of the project has been inviting younger members of the community to check in with their parents or grandparents and record a recipe that has family meaning, both bringing solace in the moment and preserving the recipe as a memory for posterity. JFS has engaged thousands of people in online events and social media. JFS also produces a podcast titled “Schmaltzy” about storytelling, food, and everything in between, which can be found here.
Additionally, when it was clear that restaurants would be hugely affected by the pandemic, the Jewish Food Society launched an impactful program, engaging Jewish and Israeli restaurants to prepare and deliver hospital meals for frontline workers. Together with various partners and many individual donations, the Jewish Food Society delivered over 50,000 meals.
With these initiatives and more, Areivim is working to transform and revitalize Jewish education and to engage Jews throughout North America in Jewish life.