As we embark on a new year, we wanted to share with you a review of our work from 2019. The Matzevah Foundation (TMF), in our ninth year of existence, continues to see growth with each passing year. That growth comes in a variety of forms from the number of projects we conduct in Poland to the number of volunteers who give of their time and resources to the growing impact that TMF has not just in Poland but around the world. While our most visible activity occurs during the summer with our cemetery restoration and commemoration projects, our team works each moth to further the scope of our work.
We are excited to share with you a snapshot of our work from this past year!
A note from our president
Humble Beginnings: Our First Nine Years
The Growth and Development of TMF
In the fall of 2010, I was living in the U.S., considering how I could advance the work that I began in Poland in 2004. At that time, I was a Baptist minister working with Baptist Poles. I had a crazy idea to work with the Jewish community to care for and restore a Jewish cemetery in Poland with Polish and American Christians. With the blessing of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, we began our work in 2005 and by 2008 we had worked in six Jewish cemeteries in the Warsaw area. At the end of 2008, my family and I returned from Poland to live in the U.S. By 2010, I began to consider what it would look like if I started a non-profit to continue our work. Along with a group of Christian friends, we established The Matzevah Foundation (TMF), as a 501(C)(3) in December 2010.
We began our first project in Zambrow, Poland in August 2012 in cooperation with two partners, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland and the Rabbinical Commission for Matters of Cemeteries in Poland. Since then our work has grown and diversified to the point that this summer (2020), we will carry out eleven projects scattered across Poland in cooperation with ten Jewish organizations and one non-Jewish organization involving local governments and community organizations including numerous volunteers.
To organize and coordinate such work requires time and leadership. There are seven board members and three volunteers, who guide, direct, and execute the work of TMF. Our work is cyclical and divided into three primary cycles: gathering and planning potential projects, project development, and project implementation. In the first phase, we consider current work, project inquiries, and partnership commitments. Phase two centers on project development with partners and includes developing a budget and volunteer recruitment. Finally, we go to the field and work with our partners, friends, communities, and local and international volunteers to care for Polish-Jewish cemeteries
You might wonder why do we do such work? We seek to honor and preserve the Jewish heritage of Poland. We do this work by caring for and restoring the Jewish cemeteries of Poland and thereby open dialogue and pursue reconciliation between Jews and Christians. The restoration work that we do is not merely about restoring or redeeming physical spaces, or their status within a particular community, but it is more so about restoring and redeeming broken relationships between people.
- Steven D. Reece, President of The Matzevah Foundation
Coming in 2020
Steven D. Reece – Founder and President of The Matzevah Foundation Kevin Little – Treasurer JoAnn Siegienski – Secretary Elaine Brown – Director of Development John Mark Folker – Director of Operations in the U.S. Rachel McRae – Director of Communications Przemek Panisuik – Director of Operations in Poland
We also have a dedicated team of volunteer staff that support the efforts of our organization in a variety of ways.
Financial Our cemetery restoration and commemoration projects for 2019 were fully funded through donations from private individuals and organizations. We are grateful to those who faithfully give each month and throughout the year. All donations we receive support not only our projects in Poland but also administration and operational needs.
We receive countless hours of volunteer work from our board, volunteer staff, and project volunteers. There are many people who give of their time, talents, and finances to help further the work of The Matzevah Foundation. We cannot put a value on all the many ways people give to our work... we are extremely grateful!
There are a couple of ways you can be a part of our work in Poland:
Volunteer: We will be announcing our project schedule for the summer of 2020 by April. We invite you to submit a volunteer application and join us for one of the projects this year. Learn more here.
Financial Giving: As our organization grows in scope and impact, so do our needs for funding. We can not do this important work in Poland without financial gifts from you. Will consider one partnering with us in 2020?
Become a Monthly Donor
Set up a recurring monthly donation through PayPal and make an easy donation each month. Choose amounts of $25, $50, $100 or more to give each month. Visit our website for a link to our PayPal today!
Or you can give monthly by writing a check made payable to The Matzevah Foundation and mail to:
The Matzevah Foundation 2020 Fieldstone Pkwy, Suite 900-246 Franklin, TN 37069
The Board of Directors, along with President Steven Reece, sincerely thank you for your engagement, investment, and support of our work in 2019. We look forward to sharing more stories and more progress in our work in 2020.