President Reuven Rivlin of Israel recently announced the launch of the “Excellenteam” boot camp: a new initiative, designed by The Russell Berrie Foundation and Start-Up Nation Central, for bringing Haredi women and Arabs into Israel’s high-tech workforce by reverse-engineering a targeted training program for high-potential talent. Industry, including leading companies such as Mobileye, Lightricks, Ex Libris and 40Nuggets, will play a lead role in specifying the “end product,” ensuring that participants have the right skills and aptitudes and are, upon graduation, set up for success, writes Ruth Salzman in a Letter From Our CEO.
A new report has found that the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue and its flagship program, the Russell Berrie Fellowship in Interreligious Studies, have transformed not only the lives and perspectives of the 87 religious leaders who have participated, but the communities—in 33 countries—that those leaders returned to. The report, “Transformative Pathways to Interfaith Leadership,” commissioned to mark the John Paul II Center’s 10th anniversary, found that 93% of alumni incorporate interfaith cooperation or dialogue into their daily conversations with students, parishioners and superiors. To read the full report, please click here.
We are all devastated by the senseless loss of lives in the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This heinous slaughter was more than an act of terrorism and anti-Semitism. It is a manifestation of the growing cancer within our society that has erupted in our most sacred spaces: schools where our children should feel safe, places where we worship — mosques, churches and synagogues. To read Angelica Berrie’s full statement, please click here.
The Russell Berrie Foundation is embarking on a new, experimental effort to invest in diabetes prevention by supporting the creation of two innovative community-based prevention initiatives in Bergen County. The pilot initiatives will draw on knowledge that has emerged from the field of diabetes care and prevention, along with a recognition of the powerful role that trusted community-based institutions can play in translating clinician recommendations into the real-world circumstances of people's daily lives. To read the full press release, please click here.
This year’s John Paul II Lecture on Interfaith Understanding, which took place on June 20 at the Jewish Theological Seminary, was distinctly different from previous events, which have featured talks by leaders such as Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee and Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan. This year’s event, co-sponsored by the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, took a musical turn — with clergy, vocalists and musicians from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions presenting “Songs for the Holy City: An Interfaith Evening of Music and Prayer.”
New Jersey's most inspiring unsung heroes were recognized for their outstanding work on behalf of others when they were named as recipients of the 2018 Russ Berrie Making a Difference Awards. The top prize, of $50,000, went to Pino Rodriguez of Camden, who has worked with residents to transform some of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods by planting flowers, cleaning up debris and, in the process, reducing crime. The 22nd annual awards, accompanied by cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, were announced at a ceremony at Ramapo College on May 4.
A highlight of the recent Jewish Funders Network conference was a two-day immersion in Jerusalem to understand the challenges of, and opportunities to transform, a multicultural city that is central to the aspirations of multiple faiths. To read Russell Berrie Foundation CEO Ruth Salzman's reflections on the conference, and announcement of the first major initiative under our Jerusalem strategy (our grant will support a totally new approach for bringing Haredi women and Arabs into the high tech workforce), please click here.
In about three years, a gleaming glass-walled $100 million home for Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design — Israel’s oldest institution of higher education, founded in 1906 — is scheduled to open in Jerusalem’s city center. It is to be accented with Jerusalem stone and topped by a garden rooftop offering a panoramic view of the capital.
As we usher in the new year, I’d like to share with you some highlights from 2017, a year of tremendous growth at The Russell Berrie Foundation. Please click here to learn how we have strengthened our team, committed to two new strategies for our work in Israel and expanded our grant-making, awarding almost 200 grants and supporting groundbreaking institutions and visionary leaders who are making a difference in the lives of others.