Torah Fund on One Foot

by Rabbi Lilly Kaufman

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If you had to say, al regel achat (standing on one leg), what Torah Fund is, could you? To give you a hand, here are some favorite Torah Fund facts.

Torah Fund is the grassroots fundraising campaign of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism that supports the seminaries of the Conservative/Masorti movement: the Jewish Theological Seminary (New York), Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (Los Angeles), and Schechter Institutes of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem). In addition, the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, in Buenos Aires, is supported by gifts from Torah Fund Scholarship Patrons ($2500 annual gift).

You can give to Torah Fund at any amount, but there are special, named categories of giving, from $180 to 5000: Guardian, Associate Patron, Patron, and Scholarship Patron. Every donation of $180 or more is acknowledged with a lovely pin/pendant, designed each year exclusively for Torah Fund, with different stones for each level of giving. The pin’s theme is coordinated with the Women’s League programming theme, reinforcing the connection of Conservative/Masorti women with life-long Jewish learning.

Donors to Keter Kavod ($5,000+), our highest level, are presented with a special pin featuring a Torah crown, which does not vary from year to year.

You knew all of this, right? Terrific! But there is also much that is new and innovative about the way we are doing business at Torah Fund.

Taking a cue from President Carol Simon’s energized and visionary leadership of Women’s League, International Torah Fund Chair Debbi Kaner Goldich has incorporated leadership teams into the way we work. The different levels of giving are overseen by three committees; the Torah Fund Advisory Committee provides direction and support; the Planned Giving Committee is developing a simple plan to extend annual Torah Fund gifts in perpetuity. We are especially appreciative of the region Torah Fund vice presidents, whose enormous dedication and talent are matched by the sisterhood chairs they serve at synagogues throughout their regions.

We are also reaching out directly to our grassroots as Debbi travels to individual sisterhoods, both to speak about Torah Fund and as a Women’s League consultant. I, too, travel to regions, teaching and speaking at Days of Study and Torah Fund events.

Our ways of doing business may be changing, but our core mission remains the same. We support the essential work of the seminaries of the Conservative/Masorti movement – educating the rabbis, cantors, educators, scholars, and future lay leaders that our communities need to energize the ‘vital center’ of religious Jewish life in North America and beyond.