How to Start Giving and Investing Jewishly—It’s Easier Than You Think 

When you donate to a non-profit or choose where to invest your money, do you do it Jewishly? What does that even mean? 

As the Director of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, it is my privilege to help folks with these questions — from first-time investors to those looking to manage complicated investment portfolios.  

After last year, we’re rethinking everything, from our work-life balance to the way we invest in our communities. If you’re looking to reimagine your philanthropic giving, the Jewish Community Foundation can help you every step of the way. Here are a few tips to start: 

Identify Your Personal Set of Jewish values  

Start by picking your personal set of Jewish values to guide your giving or investments. Some common ones that may inspire you include:

  • Bal tashchit (do not destroy; obligation to the environment) 
  • Concern for Public Safety and Well-Being 
  • Dei Machsoro (obligation to society; help those in need with whatever they lack)  
  • Gimilut chasidim (pursue acts of charity, acts of loving kindness, act of caring for others) 
  • Investing to Help A Needy or Worthy Person 
  • Lo Ta’ashok (obligation to the worker) 
  • Nosei Ve’notein Be’emunah (obligation to investors; conduct business in good faith) 
  • Rodef Shalom (obligation to coexistence; pursuing peace)
  • Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim (Concern for Animal Welfare) 
  • Tzedakah (charity; obligation to help others in need; minimum of 10 percent to charity (maaser)) 
  • Tzedek (justice and fairness) 
  • Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (support for Israel) 

Think about what tikkun olam means to you 

Giving philanthropically through the lens of tikkun olam (repairing the world) may not mean giving to organizations that are explicitly labeled Jewish. Your interpretation of tikkun olam may involve donating to causes that align with your Jewish view of the world, whether that means tackling climate change, racial justice, equal pay, or fair housing. At JCF, we call this process “philanthropic match-making,” and our team works with everyone from first-time donors to multi-generational family foundations to facilitate meaningful philanthropic connections. 

Invest with impact 

For some, investing Jewishly means giving only to Jewish causes. For others, it’s buying Israel Bonds (hello bat mitzvah!) or stock in Israeli companies. These are excellent examples, but investing Jewishly can actually be much broader.  

If you’re buying stocks or other investments, making a Jewish investment doesn’t require investing in something explicitly Jewish, but thinking purposefully about whether the companies in which you invest are aligned with your Jewish values. For instance, maybe you don’t invest in companies that treat their workers poorly or are silent on issues of antisemitism. Or perhaps you take a broader approach, choosing investments with a more general-purpose to produce positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. 

Often, clients invest in a pool of companies rather than buying individual stocks. To encourage doing this in a way that maximizes impact, Jewish Community Foundation recently launched a socially responsible investment option called the Jewish Advocacy Investment Pool. Available to those who currently have a fund at JCF, this new investment pool is intentionally aligned with Jewish values—and one of the first of its kind in North America! 

Make a Collective Impact

Contribute to a giving circle, where you and others decide where to give your collective donations. The JCF has opportunities to make this positive impact through a Jewish giving circle at a Jewish organization. Minneapolis Jewish Federation also has opportunities for helping grant through their Women’s Philanthropy group! 

Invest your Time 

Giving isn’t just financial in nature; giving your time to a non-profit aligned with your values is also valuable. Good volunteers can be hard to come by. Think about the skills you have to offer as a volunteer at a Jewish organization and keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities!  

Whether you’re a seasoned investor, feeling overwhelmed about where to give your first substantial philanthropic gift, or looking to teach your rising bar/bat mitzvah about tzedakah, the Jewish Community Foundation is here to help you on that journey. Feel free to reach out to me —I look forward to hearing from you! 

Alene G. Sussman is the director of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation