Rich Jewish Content: Releasing Divine Power, Transforming Lives

I had the pleasure of attending a gathering of Jewish funders dedicated to supporting “rich Jewish content,” in one form or another. Initiated by our friends at the Aviv Foundation and co-sponsored by the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, the event was held in New York City under the auspices of the Jewish Funders Network.

Given the Mayberg Foundation’s dedication to the proliferation of Torah wisdom and values in the contemporary world, it was gratifying for me to have the opportunity to share and learn with others who work in this space daily. In advance of the half-day gathering, attendees and noted practitioners were asked: “What does ‘rich Jewish content’ mean? What is the value of engaging more deeply with Jewish text, tradition and values?” There were some incredibly diverse, thoughtful and useful answers presented in a magazine format worth reading:

Here was my answer (edited lightly following the convening): To me, "rich Jewish content" conveys two things, both of which must be present for its full value to be realized.

  1. Our living tradition should be well represented by something from our collection of texts (or at least values derived directly therefrom).

  2. The learning process must include active intellectual and emotional engagement with that text, with the divine, and with other human beings.  The process, in this sense, IS the content.

When learning engages either our intellect or our emotion, that’s a good thing. When it does both, that’s a great thing. But when it integrates the two, weaving intellect and emotion together in one resonant song, along with our fellows, the learning itself becomes the “rich Jewish content” -- alive, divine and transformative.