Jewish Community Services

Strategic Direction

The Straus Foundation’s support for the Jewish community centers on rescue and relief for threatened Jewish communities throughout the world, providing social and human services for fragile Jewish families in Baltimore including new immigrants and for expressing the strongly held Jewish value of social justice for all citizens. The Foundation also supports opportunities for increasing understanding and cooperation among diverse cultures and communities. In addition, the Straus Foundation has supported projects that attempt to change the nature of the philanthropic relationship between American Jewry and Israel by helping to build a stronger philanthropic base among wealthy Israelis and the organizations they support.

Key Initiatives

The Straus Foundation primarily funds the Jewish community, both locally and worldwide, through large intermediaries and federations of agencies that “re-grant” our dollars in areas of greatest community need.

The Foundation also seeks to foster stronger partnerships between Americans and Israelis in the areas of philanthropy, business and the exchange of intellectual capital.

To ensure that Jewish youth are given the opportunity to remain connected to their Jewish heritage, The Straus Foundation continues to support two camps created by Aaron and Lillie Straus in the early 1920’s. These are Camps Airy and Louise.

Selected Grantees

The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore: The Associated, a federation of constituent agencies, receives the largest amount of philanthropic support in this program area. The Associated provides for social, educational and cultural programming in the Baltimore Jewish Community as well as support for worldwide Jewry through international intermediaries.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC): JDC embodies the principle that all Jews are responsible for one another. Supported by American Jewry, JDC has a four-fold mission: rescue of Jews in distress; relief of Jews in need; reconstruction and rebuilding of Jewish communities and strengthening Jewish life; and helping Israel address its most urgent social challenges by serving as a force for improvement, innovation and reform.

Maryland-Israel Development Center: This organization was created in 1992 as a public/private partnership of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, and The Associated for the purpose of helping to create jobs in Maryland and Israel by promoting trade, joint ventures and investment between countries. Most recently, the Straus Foundation invested in MarketReach America, a program funded by the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation, designed to provide business development training and consulting to Israel’s most promising technology entrepreneurs in life sciences and telecommunications.

New Israel Fund: This project focuses on building a philanthropic infrastructure within Israel by influencing changes in the tax code, creating a “culture of giving” within Israel, and build the capacity of non-governmental organizations to raise funds within Israel.

Institute for Christian Jewish Studies: The ICJS was founded in 1987 by three lay leaders in each of three religious denominations for the purpose of disarming religious hostilities and establishing programs that promote interfaith understanding.