Most of Israel’s finest artists in every discipline have received assistance from AICF. Among those supported are Itzhak Perlman, Menashe Kadishman, Pinchas Zukerman, Gil Shaham, Yefim Bronfman, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Museum, and the Batsheva Dance Company.

Through their generous scholarships and mentoring programs AICF scholarship recipients have made their impact on the world. Recently I sat down with Jaimie Mayer Phinney, director of special projects for AICF, to talk about the organization.


Why and how was your organization founded?

AICF (America-Israel Cultural Foundation) was founded in 1939 by a group of Chicago philanthropists. The goal has always been to enrich and support the lives of what was once Palestine, and became Israel primarily through cultural enrichment. Originally we focused on growing institutions and organizations.

How has it evolved over time?

We have shifted over many decades to focus primarily on nurturing young artists through creative excellence grants through-out all the arts. AICF supports excellence through scholarships, early careers, competitions and prizes, and education enrichment programs.

What is the main focus today?

Our philanthropy focuses on the entire State of Israel, where it matters most. AICF’s presence is felt internationally through the work that our 16,000+ alumni do to showcase the depth and amazing reach of Israeli culture. Nothing is more important than giving to causes that not only inform our own identity, but also touch the lives of thousands in every country around the world.

How does this work line up with Jewish values?

Israel as focus reflects closely with Jewish values, and our nonprofit has helped enrich and guide every generation of Israeli artists (jewish, arab, and all Israeli citizens). We are inclusive and help all of the arts through our funding of the entire fabric of Israeli society.

.ORG connection: AICF lends its support to Jewish organizations around the country by connecting them to Israeli talent to perform at their events.