The Jewish Free-Culture Society is dedicated to promoting the open-source sharing of cultural resources within the Jewish community and supporting new and existing open-source initiatives invested in Jewish culture and religious practice.

Many open-source initiatives in Judaism support these goals implicitly while focused on realizing their own dedicated mission. We endeavor to support these goals explicitly.

The mission of our society is to,

  • advocate for the adoption of open-source licensing within the wider Jewish community,
  • support new and existing initiatives sharing Jewish cultural resources under open terms, and
  • represent open-source Judaism within the free-culture movement at-large.

In serving this mission, the scope of our activities is described below. (Our use of the term “open-source” relies upon the standard definition of Open-source as maintained by the Open Source Initiative, the definition of Open as maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation, and the definition of Free Cultural Works as maintained by the Free-Culture Foundation.)


Advocacy for Open-source Judaism

We promote the preservation and vitality of Jewish culture and creativity by advocating for open-source licensing strategies in the sharing of creative Jewish content under copyright law. We advocate for sharing Public Domain works in digital form without restrictive End User License Agreements, and to share publicly funded and community used work under copyright with Open Content licenses.

Communicate open-source definitions

Terms like “open-source” and “open” are always at risk of becoming buzzwords whose meaning and significance is confused or watered-down through misuse. Through interviews, essays, and papers we explain the meaning and definitions of open-source terms and the history of free-culture in Judaism to those in the wider Jewish community unfamiliar with them. We explain open-source and open-source Judaism at Jewish and secular non-Jewish conferences.

Ask organizations to collaborate via open-source

We communicate directly with Jewish organizations, Jewish user-generated content projects, and digital humanities projects soliciting their adoption of Open Content licensing. For example, we encourage yeshivot and other Jewish educational institutions and publications to adopt an open-content license for sharing their published content. Similarly, we request stewards of databases and archives with substantial Public Domain content to adopt sharing content under open terms consistent with U.S. copyright law.

Promote Best Practices

In partnership with member organizations, we author and publish white-papers and other useful resources for organizations interested in adopting best practices in working with open source and open content.

Receive Copyrighted Work

Contingent on our successful registration as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Jewish Free-Culture Society will accept creative works under copyright granted through contract or willed by their deceased copyright holders (authors, artists, translators, publishing houses, estates, etc.). As legal stewards of property under copyright, we guarantee such works will be shared immediately or at a future date under free-culture compatible terms through Open Content licensing. (For example, “this copyrighted work will be available with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, beginning January 1, 2022 and until the work enters the Public Domain in 2030.”) On the date that such works are published, they are made available in their native file format and in an appropriate open standard file format for dissemination on this website.


Community Support for Open-source Initiatives

Accredit open-source efforts and archives

We accredit Jewish projects whose mission and vision is consistent with the definitions of Open Content, Open Data, and Open Service as maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation, the definition of Free Cultural Works as maintained by the Free Culture Foundation, and the definition of Open Source as maintained by the Open Source Initiative.

Recognize achievement and hard work

While open-source depends upon the principle of attribution to incentivize sharing otherwise proprietary knowledge and creativity, some community support is welcome in acknowledging the valuable contributions of individual volunteers and organizations. Every year, we acknowledge such contributions and reward good leadership within the Jewish open-source community through an annual award. In this way, we honor progress within our movement, awarding projects like Hebcal and Culmus for long-standing open-source contributions to the Jewish, and Hebrew speaking world. See our projects for more information.

Facilitate Communication and Knowledge Sharing

We advocate for open-source initiatives to develop, utilize, and collaborate in maintaining common data exchange formats and technologies so that Open Data can be more easily exchanged between project databases.

Disseminate Funds

Contingent on our successful registration as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Jewish Free-Culture Society seeks to financially support projects committed to the definitions of open-source, open knowledge, and freedom, and which promote open standards and best practices in using open-source culture in the wider Jewish community.

We solicit angel philanthropists and apply for grants from established communal funders. Any received funds (including membership dues) are divided equally to all our member projects in good standing, and to a pool of other open-source projects that group members would like to support (e.g., WordPress, Free Software Foundation, etc.).

Provide Fiscal Sponsorship

Contingent on our successful registration as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, we seek to be a responsible fiscal sponsor to new and existing open-source projects in Judaism. A fiscal sponsor receive tax-deductible donations for partnering projects, and in exchange for managing finances and paperwork, deducts a nominal amount (5%) to help pay for the work of the board of directors.