“Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua
And Yehoshua to the Elders
And the Elders to the Prophets
And the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly
And they said three things:
Be deliberate in judgment
Raise up many disciples
And make a fence for the Torah”
(Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1)
The vast path of Jewish culture, through many generations and incarnations, consists of diverse mosaic pieces, possessing varied shapes and many colors. Assembled together, they form the cultural and for many, spiritual history of us all.
Compared with this grand continuum, dating thousands of years, our Foundation’s activity might seem as a mere short segment, a single trail marker within a long journey.
And yet, looking back at our work – there are many accomplishments to be proud of.
When my father, Felix, and I, founded the Foundation, we envisioned a kind of humanistic Jewish culture accessible to all. We endeavored to present to the world Jewish works and stories, our heritage and our history, and to transform them into knowledge that isn’t confined to the yeshiva or academia, but belongs to us all.
We live in the age of information – all human knowledge and creations – not just Jewish – are accessible to every one of us, with a simple keystroke, literally, in the palm of one’s hand. From the books of Amos Oz, through the poems of Ibn Gabirol and the writings of the sages or Chazal – all can be found on the web.
And yet it seems, at times, that instead of connecting us, the information superhighway has made us in many cases lonelier. Between social media “shaming” and “likes” it appears there is no one unifying “tribal campfire” to circle around, we are all individual units, reading “TalkBacks” and responding. We live in social networks. We are isolated selves, or “selfies”.
But we are all “like a tree planted by the streams of water” – our roots seeking to take hold. And so, we witness a rise in interest and yearning to connect to one’s heritage – one’s roots.
It is in this era that I see our Foundation playing a new role in the cultural value chain – not only the gathering and assembly of information, but initiating educational activity and partnering in national projects, educational activity that will reach large audiences in the Israeli community leading a Jewish culture that is an apparatus for influencing and shaping Israeli society as a whole.
We do this as we value not only the strengthening of one’s individual bond to Jewish heritage, but also the strengthening of Jewish culture’s role as the glue that transforms us from separate individual pieces into one society.
This view also informs our involvement in social and community-based projects. Social initiatives that seek communality without diminishing the significance of the individual – but quite the opposite – by understanding that a diverse and rich Jewish community is dependent on every singular Jewish individual for its makeup.
As we reflect on the Foundation’s substantial portfolio of activities – an array of projects we lead and support – we see, at the core of them all, a cultural foundation that meets diverse groups in Israeli society at varied life junctures, and facilitates a transformation from individuals into a community.
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to guide the Posen Foundation’s direction in recent years. We have certainly added a few new steps in that grand continuum of Jewish cultural history, and I am encouraged by the contribution we continue to make.
We know, as well, that these achievements are shared achievements. Both our commitments and our successes are the result of the diligent, creative, ideological work that is being done every day by you, our partners for promoting the values of Judaism as Culture. So let me wish us all many new innovative projects to collaborate on, and educational successes to celebrate together.