A new philanthropic initiative asks Jewish Canadians to donate half their posthumous charitable givings to Jewish causes—but the uptake is slow

The Jewish Future Pledge invites Canadian philanthropists to donate half of what they would posthumously give to charity to specifically Jewish causes. (Image courtesy Jewish Future Pledge)

For decades, Jewish philanthropy has been sustained by wealthy donors who believed in supporting the community with their dollars. But some of those philanthropists worry their children and grandchildren won’t feel the same commitment to supporting Jewish institutions—that’s how American businessman Mike Leven felt, and it’s the reason he started the Jewish Future Pledge in 2020.

The initiative, inspired by Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, encourages Jews to commit to giving at least half the money designated for charities in their wills to Jewish causes. Thousands of Americans have signed on, and Leven expects as much as $600 billion could soon be promised to sustain American Jewish life.

In Canada, a small group of Canadian Jewish philanthropists recently introduced the Jewish Future Pledge north of the border, and so far, 500 people have signed on. That’s no small number—but it’s a far cry from organizers’ expectations. They’re hoping the Canadian Jewish community can pledge up to $10 billion to keep the lights on for Jewish communal institutions, ranging from Birthright trips to summer camps and Jewish advocacy.

Canadian philanthropists Wendy Switzer Myles and Warren Kimel join to discuss their reasons for signing the pledge and why they’re urging others to do the same.

What we talked about:


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