Building a Pluralistic Jewish and Democratic Israel

In Hebrew, Gvanim means hues of color. The JCF founded Gvanim to promote Jewish pluralism in 2000 in response to the deep division in Israel symbolized by the assassination of Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin by a Jewish religious extremist.

The Need

In Israel, schools and communities are divided into religious and secular sectors, creating social divisions and religious tensions that can present obstacles to democracy. The framework is often seen as a struggle between the ultra-orthodox and ultra-secular, but this polarization is only a partial view of the complex socioeconomic trends within Israeli society. Our work in Israel aims to promote the full expression of Jewish identity in all its variegated forms.

The Outcomes

Gvanim redefines pluralism for modern Israel through a 1-year action-oriented fellowship program similar to the Wexner Heritage Program that:

  • Engages key Israeli leaders from across the religious and social spectrum in a deep examination of personal Jewish identity-related challenges, together
  • Empowers Gvanim participants to initiate, plan and implement social action programs to promote Jewish pluralism in Israeli society
  • Provides thought leadership and funding for the fellows’ social action projects

All core program fellows visit San Francisco and NY for hands-on experience in Jewish pluralism and then participate in an alumni network for further their learning and collaboration.

Igniting Innovation in Jewish Pluralism

In the last decade, Gvanim has blossomed into a network of programs stemming from fellows’ social action projects that stimulate a new shared discourse – the very bulwarks of democracy.

  • 150 ALUMNI Initiated 80 Social Action projects.
  • 350 SECONDARY PARTICIPANTS Participated in Gvanim spin-off programs in the IDF, in local Government, in the Knesset, Business execs etc
  • THOUSANDS OF ISRAELIS ARE TOUCHED BY THE PROGRAMS Members of newly created congregations, participated in conferences, celebrated high holidays in an inclusive place.
For more information, contact Megan Kennedy at or 415.6264.


Categories: Israel, Overseas


April 10, 2013


The Federation