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A brief history of HEKDESH


Origin Story

In the early 2000s, some Dorot classes spent time learning hilchot tzedakah with Rabbi Levi Lauer in Jerusalem. Inspired by this learning, a few individual classes began to create their own chevrot tzedakah with a variety of different models. The class of 2000-1, for example, ran a group on its own for a few years which included the still-existing “chips” model. This model comes from Boston’s Rashi School’s tamchui project introduced by Sivan Zakai ‘00-’01. By 2005, DFI Director Steve Jacobson (was it Steve or us?) encouraged alumni to consider creating a single giving circle as the Foundation sought to deepen alumni engagement via shared projects.


Budding lawyers Emily Satterthwaite (‘03-’04) and Jeff Mandell (‘03-’04) led the charge to write HEKDESH’s bylaws. They worked with laypeople Lynda Yankaskas (‘00-’01) and Rebecca Blouwolff (‘00-’01) who had overseen their own class’ giving circle. Steve Jacobson established the relationship with FJC as HEKDESH fiscal sponsor and remained Treasurer through thick and thin.

By 2006, HEKDESH was open for business. Any Dorot alum could contribute $180 and become a member, with the added benefit of opening a donor-advised fund at FJC. The Founding Chair was Emily Satterthwaite and HEKDESH gave $2655 in inaugural grants to Alyn Hospital, Encounter, and Partners in Health. Since then, it has granted more than $200K to numerous non-profits in Israel, the US, and elsewhere in the world


Our Name and Invocation

HEKDESH or הקדש means “consecrated property for The Temple” and stands for Hineynu Kehilat Dorot Shovachat or הננו קהילת דורות שובכת meaning “We the Dorot community are here to increase and improve our giving.” Credit to Rabbi Shai Cherry, partner of DFI alum Rebecca Cherry ‘00-’01, for coming up with this acronym for the name.


HEKDESH’s invocation, used to open various gatherings of the organization, was written by Rabbi Michelle Dardashti (‘03-’04) and reads as follows:


Our God and God of those who have come before us, please accept this humble prayer on behalf of our sacred community, HEKDESH. Grant your blessing to this gathering; endow us graciously from Yourself with wisdom, insight and discernment and the ability to truly listen to and hear one another. Turn to us lovingly and direct us away from false ways; turn us away from objectives, which lead to futility. Lead us on a proper path, a path of righteousness and truth. May it be your will that our community and the decisions we make be a source of blessing – a source of peace and harmony among us and an influence for good throughout the world. May we merit to find favor in your eyes and in the eyes of all who look upon our work. Amen.


HEKDESH Chairs, 2006-present:

2006-08 Emily Satterthwaite

2008-09 Rebecca Blouwolff

2009-11 Rachel Chertok

2011-13 Julie Sissman

2013-15 Max Socol

2015-17 Amy Blumsack

2017-19 Lynda Yankaskas

2019-21 Liz Traison

2021-23 Gabi Wachs


Compiled by Rebecca Blouwolff, Julie Sissman, and Lynda Yankaskas in July 2022.