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Joshua Simon Among Young Entrepreneurs Donating to Jewish Nonprofit Organizations


Six Jewish organizations will receive sizable grants this weekend thanks to a group of young entrepreneurs called the Young Jewish Funders of Arizona (YJFAZ).

YJFAZ is personally donating a total of $50,000 to the six chosen non-profit organizations for projects that will be implemented in 2014. Each of the receiving organizations was selected after a rigorous application and interview process and will receive grants from $2,000 to $15,000 each, based on their new project needs. The selected organizations receiving grant funding outlined initiatives that not only create a positive impact but also engage those that are not yet connected with the Jewish community. An intimate awards ceremony will take place on August 25 at a private residence to honor the recipients.

The new projects that received grant funding are:

  • The Friendship Circle provides assistance to families of children with special needs and will use the funds to strengthen their volunteer programs, including a Mitzvah Volunteer Program, and they will introduce a Parent’s Night Out.
  • Jewish Free Loan will begin offering interest free loans to families for Jewish pre-school expenses.
  • BBYO, Inc. instills leadership development and identity enrichment for Jewish teens and will introduce an alumni engagement program connecting members with local young alumni.
  • Smile On Seniors offers Jewish senior programs to foster a community atmosphere. Grant funds will support more programming and social events that bring Jewish seniors together.
  • B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Program encourages teens to actively participate in philanthropic activities with grant funds matching their giving circle efforts.
  • Chabad of East Valley is a Jewish community center in Chandler that is adding children’s playground equipment to their facility.

The Young Jewish Funders of Arizona is a group of ten Phoenix area professionals, all young men under the age of 40, who are dedicated to strengthening the metro Phoenix Jewish community by supporting local programs. The group began one year ago to deepen their involvement within the community. The founding members are Jay Chernikoff, Laurence Hirsch, Zachary Kepes, Sam Saks, Greg Saltz, David Schuman, Joshua Simon, Jeff Toppel, Josh Wertlieb and Mark V. Zinman. Each member of YJFAZ has personally contributed to their giving circle to achieve the $50,000 donation taking place August 25. While financial assistance is a key element, it is not the sole focus of the Young Jewish Funders of Arizona.

“The goal of our giving circle has been to ignite a change and become personally involved with and in our Jewish community. There are so many worthy ways to build and strenthen our community and many need volunteers just as much as funding,” says Joshua Simon, founding member of Young Jewish Funders of Arizona and president of SimonCRE and One Stop Voice. “Giving circles make financial donations more personal because we have the ability to choose specific groups and causes that receive funding. Because it is a transparent donation, giving circle donations truly give donors a sense of accomplishment with the project. With our initial efforts, we hope to inspire others to organize their own giving circles and support their communities.”

Young Jewish Funders of Arizona is part of a pilot program of the international philanthropic organization called the Jewish Funders Network which works with organizations such as the Young Jewish Funders of Arizona to make their contributions impactful. Leaders within the Jewish Funders Network educate their membership on the critial issues within the philanthropic community and, while they do not influence funding agendas, help to expand Jewish giving to enhance the community and common goals.

“At the Jewish Funders Network, we have found that when philanthropic activities begin early in a career those acts continue throughout entire lives,” states Ruthie Rotenberg, who is leading the giving circles initiative for the Jewish Funders Network. “We find that financial donations, many times, are a turning point that encourage more people to be involved with the Jewish community. They begin thinking in broader terms, think deeply and act profoundly which invigorates everyone. The Young Jewish Funders of Arizona are championing this effort in Phoenix.”


The mission of Young Jewish Funders of Arizona is to identify and support initiatives that strengthen the metro Phoenix Jewish community. The group is dedicated to leveraging their shared resources to build a better and more engaging Jewish community in the Valley of the Sun. For more information on the group and the next grant opportunities, please visit


The Jewish Funders Network is an international member organization for Jewish philanthropists who are dedicated to maximizing the quality and impact of Jewish philanthropy. Their members include independent philanthropists, foundation trustees and foundation professionals. The organization has offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Israel. For more information, please visit and 212.726.0177. 

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