The face of Jerusalem has changed beyond recognition since the Jerusalem Foundation was established in 1966 at the initiative of Teddy Kollek and a group of friends. Teddy viewed the foundation as a mechanism to enable fundraising for special development missions that the Municipality of Jerusalem, which was already the poorest of Israel's large cities, was unable to fund. Following the city's unification in 1967, the foundation saw great momentum and defined its goal as the strengthening the diverse population of Jerusalem, enhancing their quality of life and erasing the scars of war and the divided city. The foundation harnessed the support of lovers of Jerusalem around the world and gave them the opportunity to take part in restoring and building the city.
The Jerusalem Foundation headed by Ruth Cheshin is the foremost foundation active in the city in the past 45 years and is Jerusalem's largest and principal social-community initiative. Through its activities it is the most influential factor in the various spheres of life in the city and sets new fundraising goals in the Israel philanthropic community.
The foundation focuses on social-cultural initiatives in accordance with a social agenda responding to the special needs and desires of Jerusalem's civil society. The Jerusalem Foundation's model was fresh and new to Israel's landscape and a model for the establishment of other community foundations around the country. It is successfully involved in thousands of projects in the fields of education, culture and the arts and social empowerment, as well as promoting better understanding and coexistence among the city's diverse populations.
Over the years, the foundation has raised over $1.5 billion, all invested in a variety of endeavors in the city. The Jerusalem Cinemathéque, of which the foundation is a co-founder and supporter to this day, integrates well with the Jerusalem Foundation's vision: safeguarding Jerusalem as a creative, pluralistic and free city and home to all its varied residents.