The NHC is proud to announce the recipients of our first round of Innovation Fund Grants! The following organizations have applied to the NHC Innovation Fund for sponsorship for their projects and have been selected. We are thrilled to be supporting a range of exciting ideas, all aligned with the NHC’s mission and vision, that will enrich Jewish communities across North America.
One of our goals is to use the NHC’s network to provide assistance for the individuals and groups carrying out the projects. They are listed below, along with a contact email. If you have resources or experiences related to the project that you want to offer, please use that email address to write to the contact directly. You do not need to write to the contact to ask him or her to share the details or resources once the project is completed; each grantee will share a final report.
Congratulations to all of the grantees, and thanks so much to committee members Marga Hirsch, Mitch Chefitz, Scott Rechler, Tim Hampton, and Marisa Harford for reviewing the applications. We are currently seeking additional donors to support this exciting new initiative; you can contact Yael Levin at email@example.com if you would like to give to support the Innovation Fund.
Online Menu of Melody Selections for Spirited Service-Leading
To lead a service with spirited singing -- as is the norm in many NHC constituent communities -- the davening leader must be proficient not only in nusach (the repetitive chant classically used to lead) but also melody. While theoretically any portion of the liturgy can be set to a melody, in practice there are certain sections which davening leaders tend to set to melodies, either because these texts are metered/poetic (e.g. Eil Adon; Lecha Dodi) or because they are high-points in the arc of the service (e.g. Kedusha). With NHC support, I will be leading a team of folks who will create an online "menu" of melody selections for the portions of the liturgy most often set to melody, so that those preparing to lead davening anywhere could easily listen to, say, twenty options for how one might set Eil Adon to a melody. The site will be a constantly evolving one, to which people in other communities in other cities with a similar interest in spirited, songful davening will add content as a way of spreading effective pairings of text and melody.
Contact: Ethan Merlin-- firstname.lastname@example.org
Jew-it-Yourself Workshop Series at Mile End Chavurah
The “Jew-It-Yourself” workshop series will kick off with two 90 minute sessions covering skills, structure, and information about Shabbat ritual, which is the main observance of the Mile End Chavurah (MECh). If these first two sessions are successful, MECh will follow up with additional sessions. Workshops will be characterized by values of the MECh: pluralistic, empowering, choice-based, feminist, contemporary, queer-friendly. This workshop series addresses the NHC’s central commitment to empowering Jewish individuals and communities to create Jewish lives for themselves. It will be one component in a larger effort to engage greater numbers of Mile End Chavurah members in leadership, in Jewish learning, and in Jewish practice.
Contact: Julia Appel-- email@example.com
Minyan Tikvah Center City Shabbaton
When Minyan Tikvah was founded in 2009, one of the goals was to provide opportunities for celebrating Shabbat beyond Friday nights. Since then, the Center City Philadelphia Jewish community has grown and evolved, with an increased demand for programming (especially given that one Friday night independent minyan folded since Tikvah’s founding). To help fill this need, Minyan Tikvah is organizing a Shabbaton which will offer additional Shabbat programming to the community. A Minyan Tikvah Shabbaton in Center City will give participants many ways to explore and celebrate Shabbat, including prayer, learning, and singing. Additionally, people who are already invested in building independent Jewish communities can learn more about the National Havurah Committee through NHC promotional materials, which we would be happy to distribute at our programming.
Contact: Mattea LeWitt-- firstname.lastname@example.org
Developing Participatory Singing at the Beacon Hebrew Alliance
Beacon Hebrew Alliance, a small community in Beacon, NY, is working to develop a participatory, musical Shabbat culture in our community. We hope to leverage some good momentum we have through our DIY Shabbat Dinner Guide and through our Cantor Ellen Gersh's involvement in the Hadar Niggun Intensive to develop a community of people who actively sing and see singing as a core part of their religious experience. Specifically, we intend to order three dozen copies of the Lechu N’Ranna bentscher (songbook), make recordings of our community singing some of these songs, and then host three melava malkas (Saturday night gatherings) where people can come together to sing.
Contact: Brent Spodek-- email@example.com
Jerusalem Unfiltered Film and Educational Resource Website
Jerusalem Unfiltered is an educational outreach initiative that immerses audiences in the richness of contemporary Jerusalem. Visitors take a multi-platform journey that transports them directly to the city streets with some of the city’s most dynamic young change-makers. With a colorful vision for a vibrant and pluralistic Jerusalem, these citizens have founded political and cultural movements to re-imagine community arts, public spaces, and social activism, working to revitalize their city and to allow all voices to be heard. Through interactions with Jerusalem’s most colorful characters across film, online, mobile app, and live screening components, visitors participate firsthand in the developing new climate in the ancient city. Short films from the project and a discussion about life in contemporary Jerusalem will be presented at the 2013 Institute.
Contact: Michal Richardson-- Michal.Richardson@gmail.com
Jews in the Woods Shabbaton
Jews in the Woods (JitW) is a shabbaton created by and for university students and young adults. It provides university students with the opportunity to observe Shabbat and experience Judaism with other students from diverse backgrounds in a pluralistic environment where all participants respect the validity and authenticity of different participants’ Jewish journeys. It allows students who are struggling to find where they fit into the Jewish community to realize that there are many options in-between the borders of conventional definitions and institutions. Like the National Havurah Committee, JitW is a grassroots organization, and it is run by and for students. JitW is strictly volunteer-based; it is not affiliated with Hillel or any other Jewish institution. The student organizers gain valuable experience and skills in Jewish communal leadership that they can bring to their home communities. Former leaders have returned to their campuses to strengthen their Jewish communities, and they have brought this energy post-college as well.
Contact: Ike Swetlitz-- firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Tikkun Leil Shabbat more Welcoming
Tikkun Leil Shabbat is a Washington, DC-area community that holds songful, soulful Sabbath services featuring a teaching about a social justice issue and followed by a potluck vegetarian dinner. TLS would like to support people who are interested in learning more about Judaism to increase their comfort with new and unfamiliar practices so that they might feel more open to exploring Jewish spirituality. New welcoming efforts will include printed resources, classes and workshops, and other opportunities to reach out to help community members develop comfort with Jewish ritual and share their personal Jewish journeys. This project will make TLS into more of a learning and risk-taking environment, building on the rich spiritual space it is now.
Contact: Lizzie Busch-- email@example.com
Shir HaMaalot Service Leader Training and Niggun Share
The goal of the project is to teach melodies and basic service leading skills to interested participants and potential service leaders of Shir HaMaalot, a musical havurah in Brooklyn New York that meets at least one Friday a month. The project is needed to help develop, train, and support more service leaders as we consider expanding the number of services scheduled each month. The project aligns with the goals of the NHC as it is helping Jews envision and create empowered, joyful grassroots community through sharing service leading skills, as well as passing on Jewish traditions by sharing melodies. The first workshop will take place as a part of a Malave Malkah program led by Joey Weisenberg and members of the Shir HaMa’alot organizing committee, which will be followed by additional workshops/sessions to make potential leaders more comfortable with leading services.
Contact: Russ Agdern—firstname.lastname@example.org