Jerusalem Foundation 50th Anniversary Highlights

50Th Anniversary Celebrations 3


From September 20-22, we hosted a special conference celebrating 50 years of accomplishments and looking forward to the next 50 and beyond. The conference took place throughout Jerusalem and attracted 250 visitors from around the world.


Day 1: Past


This day was about exploring the history of Jerusalem and of the Jerusalem Foundation. Helicopter tours provided a panoramic view of the city, followed by lunch and words of welcome from Jerusalem Foundation President Yohanna Arbib Perugia, and speeches by Irwin Cotler, Ari Shavit, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  A scrumptious lunch was interspersed with presentations by the finalists of the Social Innovation Challenge, who competed for grants of $50,000, $35,000 and $15,000 to carry out projects addressing key challenges facing the city.


After a “Jerusalem Reality Check”  moderated by David Horowitz, guests were whisked off to the residence of President Ruvi Rivlin, who gave a moving speech about the Jerusalem Foundation’s importance to the city’s development, accompanied by music from students at Hassadna Conservatory, a Jerusalem Foundation project. The speech was followed by a photo opp with the president for our founding families, who were also honored that evening at a gala spectacular at Teddy Park in Mitchell Parks and Gardens.


Day 2: Present


If the first day was about the Yerushalayim shel mala – the mythic Jerusalem of yore – the second day was all about Yerushalayim shel mata – the Jerusalem of today, in all its complexity. Breakfast at Wohl Rose Park provided an opportunity to hear from Mayor Nir Barkat about private-public partnerships that are changing the face of the city. Tours of Jerusalem Foundation projects in arts and culture, heritage and preservation, dialogue and shared living, education, and empowering vulnerable populations provided a chance to see how the Foundation is changing the city’s reality and to meet with every day Jerusalemites working to make a difference. This opportunity continued with panels in the afternoon, focused on innovation and dialogue, that featured leaders in their fields.


After a delicious dinner at the King David Hotel, Jerusalem’s Everyday Heroes became the stars of the show in a special concert at the Jerusalem Theater featuring Idan Raichel. The event highlighted change-makers throughout the city, seen through the lens of Jerusalem Foundation projects.


Day 3: Future


It’s not enough to celebrate the past without laying the groundwork for the future – this motto not only animates the work of the Jerusalem Foundation, which leverages the city’s heritage to shape its thriving future, but also our conference, where we spent the last day pondering the best ways to continue in the footsteps of our founder, legendary Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek.

Following an early-morning tour of the latest excavations at the Tower of David, a panel at Mishkenot Sha’ananim featuring Elliot Abrams and William Booth provided an in-depth analysis of Jerusalem in the context of wider global affairs, including the crisis in Syria and the upcoming US elections. A “NextGen Philanthropy” panel focused on the challenge of attracting the next generation of donors, which morphed into a larger conversation on the challenge of preserving Jewish identity, Israel-Diaspora relations, and fighting anti-Semitism.


During a magnificent lunch overlooking the Old City, guests were treated to a speech by Daniel Gordis about the place where Jerusalem legend meets Jerusalem reality, followed by an afternoon session with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who spoke about the power of Jerusalem to unite, and by Bernard-Henry Levi, who spoke about Jerusalem from a humanist perspective.

The conference ended with a vote on the three winners of our Social Innovation Challenge, who proposed projects that will impact the future of the city by implementing creative solutions to some of its key challenges.

The 1st place winner was Medabrot Ivrit, a program that offers free Hebrew classes that empower Arab women.

The 2nd place winner was Jerusalem Double, a series of Jewish-Arab backgammon games.

The 3rd place winner was the Time Bank App, a platform to help neighbors trade acts of kindness.

We would like to thank all of our guests for making the conference a huge success and are already looking forward to the next one!


Stay tuned to find out more details about upcoming events in 2017