Last month, Kol ALEPH sat down with Jade Netanya Ullmann to discuss philanthropic giving. Known for her philanthropic work in the psychedelic space, Jade is also an ALEPH donor. In the hope of inspiring others, Jade made a lifetime pledge to support ALEPH with a sustaining annual donation of $1,800, setting a precedent for philanthropic giving to nurture the Jewish Renewal movement. You, too, can make an impact on the future of Jewish Renewal when you donate to ALEPH and join other sustaining supporters like Jade.
Here is what Jade had to say about the impact of philanthropic giving:
You are already quite a philanthropist. What inspires your giving?
I think of it as social justice. Philanthropy is a way to make the world more just. I’ve inherited money and so I’ve had to think conscientiously about the wealth that I’ve inherited. Giving through my family foundation is a way for me to have and impact and bring about justice for the issues I care about.
Is there a particular type of cause that draws you in?
I focus on anything that takes on systemic change issues. [I also like to support] organizations that are doing things differently. The organizations that I support have been diverse. I’ve given to some activist groups; I’ve given to service groups, harm reduction, and Jewish Renewal groups as well.
What draws you to give to Jewish Renewal?
I was very inspired by Jewish Renewal from the time I was 18 years old. I think of Jewish Renewal as the core of the kind of Judaism that is most meaningful and can make a difference in the world. The innovation and the vision of Jewish Renewal really inspires me.
I attended Naropa University and had Reb Zalman as a teacher there…He was always very generous and would open up his home [to the community]…He was a very challenging teacher at Naropa… [His approach] was always focused on pushing people to the next level.
What do you wish more people knew about the impact of individual giving?
I think anyone can be a philanthropist. Even if you’re just giving $50, that makes a difference. I just think of it as different levels, but every gift makes a difference.
What inspired you to make a lifetime commitment gift to ALEPH?
A couple of years ago I was at Eve [Ilsen]’s house after Reb Zalman’s [passing] and I just felt so inspired that I made a commitment to give $1,800 annually throughout the rest of my life, assuming the money is there to give. I never heard of lifetime commitment gifts before, I’d never heard of such a thing. I just felt moved at the time, particularly as a young person. I also wanted to inspire other people in the room who could be doing this as well who were older than me. I wanted them to think “I can do this too.”…It was just something that came to me. I felt as though it was Reb Zalman’s spirit.
Well, thank you for making a lasting, notable difference by making such a sizable, recurring gift at such a young age. It goes to show the cumulative power of recurring giving at any level. Over such a long period of time, it has a huge impact.
Why make this kind of a gift to ALEPH?
ALEPH has always been the innovator, the mother house to this type of Judaism, so I think it’s really important to support the organization. It’s the engine of this movement. I like supporting infrastructure piece too, it’s not like the “sexy” thing to fund, but it makes a difference. There’s something about supporting the infrastructure of an organization like ALEPH that you know this work will have legs in the world. Your gift to [general operational costs] makes a difference.
Tell us about your spiritual practice, particularly since it’s so connected to Renewal and a driver for your giving.
I do a lot of my communal ritual with Romemu which is a Jewish Renewal community. I am drawn to the Kohenet movement, where you’re really connecting with the earth. My spirituality heavily leans into all of these rituals from Renewal.
Anything else to add?
I think it’s really important for next- gen folks to get involved in ALEPH and be giving to ALEPH. I feel passionate about the next generation to be involved in the movement and in this kind of philanthropy.
Sustaining supporters are the heart and soul of ALEPH. You too can nurture the growth of Jewish Renewal when you visit https://aleph.org/contribute/ and make your sustaining gift today.
Jade Netanya Ullmann is a longtime member of the Jewish Renewal community and a former ALEPH board member. In addition to her work with the Ullmann Family Foundation, she is the Major Gifts Maven of The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). She currently serves on the board of Romemu, an ALEPH affiliate community.