We’re starting a new series on our blog, “Spotlight on a PT Partner,” highlighting longtime PT supporters who have made a significant impact on our programs. First in our series: The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
Over the past 24 years, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has become an inveterate supporter of Jewish innovation.
CLSFF works to ensure vibrant Jewish life by empowering young Jews to embrace the joy of Judaism, build inclusive Jewish communities, support Israel and repair the world. From the ROI Summit to JPropel, Jerusalem Season of Culture to REALITY Israel Experience, and Moishe House to Joshua Venture Group, CLSFF has helped start and support numerous influential and impactful organizations across the US and around the world.
PresenTense has had the pleasure of working with CLSFF since the early days, when our core program was still called the Presentense Institute for Creative Zionism. Over the years, CLSFF has invested both time and finances to help us grow. Dozens of our fellows have had the pleasure of learning from Lynn Schusterman’s wisdom and insights during visits to our summer institute. And Sandy Cardin, President of the foundation, has served as our board member since 2007 and gives an annual talk at our Global Summer Institute about the future of philanthropy.
As Aharon Horwitz and Ariel Beery, PresenTense co-directors, relate, “Several years ago, when Lynn first came to speak to the PresenTense fellows in Jerusalem, she told the story of how, in 1967, she and Charlie took out a loan of $500 to send to Israel for support during the Six Day War. This story has become part of our teaching, when we want to demonstrate to our entrepreneurs what it means to be passionate and dedicated to a cause. It has inspired our fellows to reach farther and push themselves harder for Israel and the Jewish People.”
We asked Lynn Schusterman, as someone on the forefront of new developments in the Jewish community, for her thoughts on what exciting changes are occurring, and how the Foundation is adapting to meet those needs.
PT: What is the most exciting development that you and the Schusterman Foundation are noticing in the Jewish Community today?
Lynn: We are living in a transitional time, which is both exciting and challenging for the Jewish community and for the broader world as well. Just about the only constant today is that our world is constantly changing. But great leaders and opportunities often emerge during transitions, and at 72 years old, I am blessed to be seeing the seeds of what we have been planting over the past few decades taking root.
I am so excited by the growing number of young people taking charge of their Jewish journeys. They are starting their own non-profits, forming study groups, volunteering and mobilizing people around their passions. Where some might see denominations and divisions, these young people see potential for working together to contribute to the global Jewish community and to the world at large.
As a result, there are vibrant pockets of Jewish life sprouting up around the world that are rooted in openness and tolerance. We must be committed to helping these hubs grow and connect to each other.
PT: What is one way that the Schusterman Foundation has adapted over the past decade to meet changing times?
Lynn: I like to say that we have gone from a local Foundation that thinks globally to a global Foundation that thinks locally. In other words, we have moved from a responsive grantmaking approach to being much more involved on the ground with people we are trying to impact.
Through initiatives like the ROI Community, we are supporting individuals who are creating new avenues of Jewish experiences, and through programs like the REALITY Israel Experience, we are helping young people find a personally meaningful connection to the Jewish community. Most recently, we have begun exploring the use of networks to empower as many young Jewish adults as possible to connect with one another and work together to build vibrant Jewish communities.
But while some of our approaches and tools have changed, we are rooted in the same core values that have defined our Foundation since we began in 1987: a love for Judaism, the Jewish people and Israel; a passion for repairing the world; a belief in the potential of young people; a devotion to supporting our hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and a commitment to the pursuit of excellence.
We’re excited to hear what 5772 brings for the Schusterman Foundation and the people and communities they impact.