Jerusalem Updates

We are happy to share this post on the Leichtag Foundation’s work in Jerusalem, written by Executive Vice-President, Charlene Seidle. Charlene is in Jerusalem through the end of this month.

1. Election fever: the municipal elections are October 30 and it seems that, anywhere you look, you are confronted with huge posters, billboards and bus signs featuring some candidate’s face. There are four highly experienced, viable frontrunning candidates which is fairly unprecedented. In prior Jerusalem municipal elections, there has generally been two clear competitors with at least a strong pull to one or the other.

I think one of the most important pre-election takeaways for us is that we’re seeing in real time the trend that’s been manifesting in civil society and among social entrepreneurs and change agents for at least the last five years. There really is no majority in this city, and in order to lead successfully (and be elected for that matter), you need to reach beyond your group to appeal to constituents who might not share your exact same background or national identity. I think in balance that is a good thing — although we will see how it plays out with this election. To amplify this point, we are helping to support an initiative that among other activities is working to get each mayoral candidate to sign a “covenant” that asserts their commitment to serving all Jerusalem residents and to maintaining the diversity of the city, even building upon it. This last week, each of the candidates did indeed sign the commitment, and I attached photos of each of them doing so. Additionally, a petition is circulating so a large cadre of Jerusalem voters commit to holding the successful candidate accountable to uphold these promises.

Last night, the Model held a private, confidential discussion with members in the attic of Hansen House to discuss the election and people’s feedback and feelings. Following that, there was a Model meet-up at Hadir Bar at Hansen (the Foundation is an investor in this bar which is owned by our friend Chef Hedai) to which all the candidates were invited, and all are confirmed to attend. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the diversity, passion and commitment of our social entrepreneur community to key decision makers.

2. Funder and Influencer education: A lot of funders are converging on Israel with multiple foundation board meetings happening this week and next, the General Assembly gathering of all the federations takes place in Tel Aviv this week, the Start Up Nation Central summit also in Tel Aviv this week and other happenings. I have met with several funders already in my time here and have a number of other meetings scheduled. It’s exciting to see how curious people are to learn more about Jerusalem, to connect with and meet directly with activists we have identified and to delve beneath the headlines and look at the layers and nuances. A couple people have called Leichtag “premiere talent spotters” when reflecting on how they see the foundation; that’s a great way to describe what we seek to do and nurture and certainly would be consistent with how the Leichtags saw themselves and their mission in life. Lee especially was known for mentoring young business talent.

3. Capacity building: As always, I’ve had several meetings with NGO CEOs often new in their jobs and with social entrepreneurs who are juggling managing, fundraising, budgeting, governance and everything else that comes with running an organization. The quality of talent here is always inspiring and uplifting.

A special shout-out to our wonderful team here, Ariel, Yasmin and Yusuf. We’ve been doing a lot of planning and work to prep for the coming year and also more immediate activities like Sunday night’s event and Monday morning’s Jerusalem Model Advisory Board. We are also planning for Ariel (and her mom, acclaimed artist Andi Arnovitz) to visit us at the Commons in March!

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