Artist’s Statement

ariel Guest post by Ariel Burger

The following Artist’s Statement was composed by Ariel Burger to illuminate his work and process in creating the piece of art commissioned by Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah to be presented as tangible commemoration of the 2016 Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom.

Many choices go into any work of art, especially when it is commissioned for a specific purpose. This is even more true when those who commission the work are themselves creative thinkers. One of the pleasures of this project was the opportunity to learn and discuss concepts and content choices with the Lippman Kanfer professional team.

Because of the Foundation’s focus on “Living Torah”, and the subject of this Prize, I wanted to portray that concept, while exploring new territory and a new visual lexicon.

After developing several concept sketches, we narrowed them down to three, and then the artistic process guided me to the final image. Continue reading

Finalists announced for Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applying Jewish Wisdom

A way to recognize and reward the variety of excellent programs already using the applied Jewish wisdom framework.  Applications open June 1 - August 15, 2016.

Top 12 Programs named from over 200 Semifinalists

Akron, OH: Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah is pleased to announce its Finalists for the Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applying Jewish Wisdom.

The Prize launched in June with open applications and a goal of identifying and recognizing programs that help individuals and communities access and apply Jewish wisdom in ways that enable them to live better lives and shape a better world. The foundation was overwhelmed by the positive response to the competition and recognized more than 200 Semifinalists, highlighting the incredible diversity of programs and projects that are successfully applying Jewish wisdom. Continue reading

Announcing: Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom

An important announcement from our Board President, Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, joined by Board Member Joe Kanfer and Foundation President Jon Woocher.



Visit our prize site at and apply NOW!


And please help us spread the word!!!  We’ve made it easy for you – just click here to instantly Tweet: Check out the new prize from @lippmankanfer Recognizing and rewarding programs that apply Jewish Wisdom

What is Yovel?



By Rabbi Lee Moore


In the book of Leviticus Yovel or ‘The Jubilee” is presented as the “sabbath of sabbatical years.” The sabbatical year, shmittah, comes every 7 years and mandates both a rest for the land (soil is not used for production) and a rest for economic strife (all debts are released). Yovel comes with the 7th of these 7-year cycles and is either the 49th or 50th year (there is a dispute about which, of course). It is similar to shmittah in that it is a time of social and economic release.

On the day of Yom Kippur during the Yovel year, the ram’s horn was blown to ‘proclaim freedom’ throughout the entire land. ‘Freedom’ in this case meant not only forgiveness of debt as in the shmittah year, but also the release of all slaves into freedom and radical land reform. Continue reading

What Yovel Means To Us

dara 330 2014


by Dara Steinberg, Executive Director


Milestones are a moment to reflect back, examine the present, and look ahead. 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Lippman Kanfer Family Philanthropies. In 1966, Jerry Lippman founded the Jerome Lippman Family Foundation. He had turned his tenth grade education and the special soap he developed to safely remove carbon black from rubber plant workers’ hands into a business, GOJO, with his wife Goldie, who had a keen head for numbers.  Creating the foundation in 1966 provided a framework for the tzedakah that was already a part of their lives and created a formal way to continue to do it together, first with their nephew Joe Kanfer, and eventually with Joe’s children as well.

Jerry and Goldie, who began a philanthropic journey 50 years and multiple generations ago.

Jerry and Goldie, who began a philanthropic journey 50 years and multiple generations ago.

The Jerome Lippman Family Foundation became, over the years, Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation and Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah – two modern entities that still have their roots in the family and efforts begun by Jerry and Goldie. Continue reading

Applying Jewish Wisdom – Making A Watchword



By Jon Woocher, President


There’s great risk in trying to characterize the historical moment one is living in. I should know. In the early and mid 1980s I wrote about the ascendancy of an American Jewish “civil religion,” anchored in the Jewish federation system and celebrating values of Jewish solidarity and survivalism. Within a few years it had become evident that this civil religion was in fact beginning to decline in its reach and influence. Personalism, not communalism, was the growing force in Jewish life – as in American religious life in general. 1980s Robert Bellah (Habits of the Heart), not 1960s Robert Bellah (“Civil Religion in America”), was speaking more directly to the moment, and would continue to do so for several decades.

So it is with some trepidation that I suggest that the present moment in American Jewish life is marked by a growing focus on a new defining theme. Nonetheless, I believe the evidence is accumulating that this is precisely the case.  Continue reading

Reflections on the turning of the fiscal year





The Jewish calendar includes a number of new year’s days (four, according to the Mishnah). January 1 is not among them. Nonetheless, since the transition to 2016 does coincide with the start of Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah’s new fiscal year, this is perhaps an opportune time for me to do some reflecting on the past year and some anticipating of what is to come.

Perhaps the pivotal moment of the past year for me came relatively late, in October, with the publication of a Statement on Jewish Vitality, an effort, signed by 74 leaders from various parts of the Jewish community, to mobilize support for a series of programmatic investments aimed at strengthening American Jewish life. The statement was directed at funders (like our foundation) and policy makers. It touched off a vigorous debate about the analysis and strategy underlying its recommendations, as well as the tone of the statement itself. As part of that debate, we as a foundation did something we rarely do: we issued a formal statement in response, laying out our reasons for dissatisfaction with the original statement and outlining our own vision and strategy for promoting Jewish vitality. Continue reading

Grantmaking 2014

dara 330 2014

2014 was Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah’s first full calendar year of operation. Our work incorporates a variety of strategies for advancing the understanding and application of what we call Living Torah.  But our most direct way of doing so is by supporting projects and partners who share our perspective through grants. As we start 2015, it’s exciting for us to look back at the portfolio we’ve built over the last year and to take a minute to celebrate the organizations we’ll be partnering with over the next several months. Continue reading

Call and Response – The Jewish Wisdom behind Compassion

“Cultivating compassion and empathy is at the very heart of Judaism’s vision of a spiritual life. To take Judaism seriously is to commit to growing kinder, to showing up, and being present with people during moments of pain and suffering.”

The world is and has always been a place of great beauty and painful, dark, troubling events. Looking back at this past year, in particular, the flow of suffering seems to be a rising tide. We see and feel deeply the magnitude of crisis and tragedy and pain, both global and intensely personal – the thousands dead of Ebola, the protests of Ferguson and beyond, the victims of Har Nof. And now Paris.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed, to protect yourself from deep fear by distancing yourself, to go numb. Continue reading