$1M matching grant awarded to Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies

A large tan building with little to no windows but a large metal plaque with a long phrase sits alone on a sunny day.
Michael Drummond/File

Related Posts

The Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies has been awarded a matching grant of $1 million from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, a Los Angeles-based foundation that previously gave the institute its initial seed money in 2011.

The institute, which is part of the UC Berkeley School of Law, has two main programs: the Program on Israel Studies and the Program on Jewish Law, Thought, and Identity. The institute, which launched in 2011, offers opportunities for research, programming and mentorship, according to the institute’s website. The institute’s Executive Director Rebecca Golbert said the institute, which relies on “soft money,” is really self-funded mainly through funds from individual donors, foundation gifts and grants.

“That means that those funds each year largely cover operating costs, our program costs and our cost for salary for our staff,” Golbert said. We’re looking to fundraise to have a longer-term sustainability model, where we can have funding that allows us to think in bigger ways and think in long term.”

One of the institute’s major funding sources is the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, which gives the institute annual funding of about $250,000. According to Golbert, if the institute is able to raise $2 million from new donors, the foundation will match these funds with an additional $1 million to add to its annual grant for the institute’s operating costs.

The institute’s goal of raising a $10-million endowment — what the institute needs to be self-sustaining — is part of a large campaign in Jewish and Israel studies across campus in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies and the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, according to Golbert. The institute has also received a combined total of nearly $2 million from the Koret Foundation and from the Jim Joseph Foundation for operational expenses, according to the website for J. The Jewish News of Northern California.

With more funding, the institute is able to cover its expenses for staff salary compensation, programming and visiting faculty members. Golbert added that the institute has planned a new program for this summer that exemplifies a type of program the institute can provide in the long-term with secure funding.

The summer experiential learning program in Israel allows about 20 students to earn six credits while studying an on-site course in legal studies and social change as well as interning in the social sector. According to Golbert, the institute hopes to provide more than one program in Israel in the future.

“The (Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert) Foundation is a very professional foundation based in LA that has been a very strong supporter of the institute from day one,” Golbert said. “In the broader law and humanities lens, for them, this was a way to motivate others in the philanthropic world to step up and provide longer-term support and a vision.”

Contact Bella An at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BellaAn_dc.