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  • Rabbi Jacob Siegel

Jewish Leadership in Impact Investing Award

We are pleased to announce JLens' 2020 Jewish Leadership in Impact Investing Award will be given to Beth Sirull, CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego.

This award recognizes a leader in the Jewish community who has demonstrated leadership in impact investing, advanced the community's adoption of impact investing, and inspired others to do the same. Awardees demonstrate a passion for bringing Jewish communal values to bear in investment decisions and show by example that an institution's investments are not divorced from its mission but instead can be used to further its mission. The award is granted by JLens, which explores a Jewish lens on investing and serves as the bridge between the Jewish community and the impact investing arena.

About the recipient: Beth has served as the CEO of JCF San Diego since 2017, and in that time she has guided the organization’s launch of a diversified impact investing pool that has more than quadrupled in assets since it was launched. The investments in the pool achieve tremendous impact in a variety of ways: from local affordable housing, to environmental sustainability, to investing in economic and social development in Israel, to engaging in shareholder advocacy on the opioid crisis and other major issues aligned with Jewish values. The organization even helped launch the field of shareholder advocacy in Israel through investments in Israeli public companies with strong environmental and social performance.

Beth has also served as a model, inspiration, and leader in the Jewish community, tirelessly advocating for Jewish organizations to engage deeper in impact investing. Beth published an article in the Forward in July 2019 arguing for Jewish organizations to adopt values-based investing: “My question is: Why? Why does a synagogue community go to great lengths to ensure its kitchen’s kashruth, but allow its endowment to prosper from companies whose environmental, labor and community practices are at odds with Jewish values?” In that same article, Beth notes that, despite initial skepticism, over the past three years, JCF San Diego’s Impact Investing Pool has outperformed all of the other investment pools offered at the organization.

When JLens asked what she would envision or hope for, Beth answered: “We know that there are other organizations, private foundations that are moving their endowments to 100% impact investments. Financial returns are not suffering and these organizations are having meaningful impact. The more capital that goes into impact investing, the more vehicles that will be created to support those investments. I’d like to see that even in ‘traditional investing,’ we always consider Jewish values where we can. We talk about Jewish values all the time - you don’t get to say that I strive to live those values in this area but pay no attention in that area.”

Beth shares that her favorite Jewish teaching about investing is a quote from the medieval sage Rashi, commenting on the Shema, which discusses loving God “‘with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might.’ The shema is a central prayer to Jewish life. And Rashi, one of our leading scholars in Jewish tradition, said that ‘all your might’ is not about your physical power, it’s about your wealth, your worldly possessions - how you steward your assets.”

Congratulations to Beth for her leadership!

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