NHC Innovation Fund Announces Recipients of 2014 Grants!

The NHC is proud to announce the wide array of exciting grass-roots initiatives that will be supported by the Innovation Fund this year. The Innovation Fund aims to harness the creativity and energy of the NHC community to create programs that will align with the NHC’s vision and mission, erectile enhance Jewish learning and living across North America, recipe and engage and develop Havurah community innovators and leaders. Read about the nine amazing projects that have been selected this year. To find out more about the projects, join many of the grantees at the 2014 NHC Summer Institute, and/or contact the NHC office to be put in touch.

Jewish Climate Action Network
What’s Inside?
Generous Justice
Global Sofrot Conference
Jeremiah Fellowship Alumni Retreat
Teen Beit Midrash
SermonSlam
Jews in the Woods Retreat
Havurat Shalom Machzor


Jewish Climate Action Network, Boston: The newly formed Jewish Climate Action Network in Boston is sponsoring a series of events in the spring and fall to bring together individuals and organizations to galvanize a Jewish response to climate change issues in Boston. They will bring together core individuals from different Jewish communities for a “train the trainer” event for Jewish Climate Activism to develop a cadre of activists who can go to synagogues and other institutions with a clear message about climate change and our options for responding; host speakers such as Rabbi Arthur Waskow; provide synagogues with a monthly packet of options for education, advocacy, action, and justice; and gather people from local synagogues who are already working on environmental concerns to help support them and give them the opportunity to talk to each other and share what is happening in their local communities. Contacts: Laura Bellows, Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Jeffrey Mazur


What’s Inside? Chicago: The Jewish Enrichment Center, an independent, innovative Jewish center for Sunday morning and after school enrichment, has partnered with Congregation Rodfei Zedek to propose a project designed on the model of museum backpacks that families can borrow in order to guide and enrich the family’s exploration of exhibits. Each backpack will contain instructions, Jewish information or text, materials for an experience or conversation, and a way to document the experience. For example, an intergenerational backpack could contain everything necessary for a family with young children to interview an older member of the synagogue: a list of questions, a book in which to record highlights of the conversation alongside photos of people who have been interviewed, and a prompt and materials for the two generations to create a small banner that shows what’s important to them about being Jewish, to be displayed publicly in the building. Contacts: Cathy Bowers, Rabbi Rebecca Milder


Generous Justice: Building on the momentum of participant responses to the 2012 Hollander Social Justice Fellow workshops, Nedivut Tzedek / Generous Justice is an intensive leadership training program for the 2015 Institute that will prepare participants to develop Jewish generosity circles in their families and home communities. Nedivut Tzedek circles differ from tzedakah collectives and other groups that allocate pooled funds, as they will support their members in any form of Jewish capacity-building for increased personal monetary giving. The four-day NHC Institute training will be designed to prepare a cohort of 15-20 educators, advocates, activists and planners, to lead by example and share what they learn in ever-widening circles of dialogue and support. Nedivut Tzedek participants will commit to work within local independent havurot or minyanim, synagogues, schools, service / advocacy organizations and/or their own growing families. Contacts: Regina Sandler-Phillips, Janet Hollander


Global Sofrot Conference: Female Torah scribes, established and upcoming, will gather to share experiences, study together, create ideas, forge bonds, find mentors, and expand their abilities and energy to bring Torah scrolls to their communities and students. Building on an existing online network, this will be the first official gathering of women who have written Torah scrolls. There will be a siyum on the completion of a Torah scroll and sessions related to the work of Torah scribes-materials, history, Talmud, accessibility, community Torah sewing, and more. The ripple effects will be considerable, including to the multiple Jewish communities where these scribes already work and teach. This will support stronger, better-grounded scribes, which means stronger, better-grounded teaching and Torah scrolls. Contacts: Jen Taylor Friedman, Linda Motzkin


Jeremiah Fellowship Alumni Retreat, Washington DC: In order to foster self-care for activists and community organizers, community listening to determine needs and interests, and building connections over four cohorts of fellows, alumni of the JUFJ (Jews United for Justice) Jeremiah Fellowship are organizing a weekend retreat. The fellowship combines study of Jewish learning and community organizing techniques to empower Jewish activists to act effectively to make their communities better. This retreat is aimed at re-energizing all of the cohorts as a group and strengthening the network so that its members are inspired to be more active organizers and participants in tikkun olam. Contact: Eve Copeland


Teen Beit Midrash, Boston: The Teen Beit Midrash opened its doors in October of 2013 as warm, communal, low-key environment for teens excited about deep, challenging, and relevant Jewish study. The program is a collaboration between several local organizations to bring together curious, thoughtful, creative teens who love being Jewish and want to experience high level Torah Lishmah-torah study for its own sake. The genesis of this project came from a variety of directions, including a geographic area lacking a supplementary Jewish high school program, the challenge of creating contexts of deep Torah study in most supplementary learning programs, and the strong sense that access to Jewish texts and teachers who love them should be available to any interested teen. Innovation Fund resources will be used to support faculty stipends and recruitment costs as the program expands and develops into a self-sustaining project. Contacts: Shahar Colt, Miriam Simma Walfish


SermonSlam: SermonSlam (sermonslam.openquorum.org) is intended to be a fun outlet for new and creative Torah, and a vehicle by which such expression can be brought into the public consciousness, thereby inspiring future Torah. SermonSlam events begin as poetry slams with a Jewish theme, e.g. Hanukkah, or Exodus & Liberation. Community members sign up in advance to deliver 5-minute “sermons,” which can also be poems, short stories, narratives, or anything else. The events are video and audio recorded and some of the content is posted on YouTube and the SermonSlam podcast. So far, there have been SermonSlams in Philadelphia, New York, and Jerusalem. In the next few months, we expect to see events in Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Boston, Cambridge, Columbus, Chicago, DC, Evanston, Houston, Princeton, Providence, Tel Aviv, Toronto, the University of Maryland-and hopefully at Institute, too! Innovation funds will be used to support the purchase of high-quality recording equipment. Contacts: Michal Richardson, David Zvi Kalman


Jews in the Woods Retreat: Jews in the Woods (JitW) is a Shabbaton created by and for about 60 students and young adults. It purposefully creates a non-judgmental and creative space where young adults can explore their own Jewish values while respecting and learning from others. It is fiercely pluralistic and open to all kinds of Jewish expressions in a cooperative Shabbat atmosphere. JitW is entirely volunteer-run; young adults organize the entire weekend, including all the planning, finances, cooking, Jewish ritual/davening, and workshops. The volunteers gain leadership experience; Jewish skills, such as how to organize davening; secular skills, such as event planning and logistics management; and benefit from interaction with peers from various backgrounds and beliefs with whom to continue conversations about Jewish identity and innovation after the weekend. Contacts: Gabriella Spitzer, Molly Moses, Roberta Goldman


Havurat Shalom Machzor, Somerville MA: Havurat Shalom has a long history of engaging dedicated lay people in creating liturgical language featuring masculine and feminine God and people language, multiple metaphors for God, and a more compassionate view of non-Jews, with a commitment to making that work accessible to the larger community. The havurah also provides a free, meaningful High Holiday davenning to the greater community. Their goal in this project is to produce a High Holiday Mahzor in Hebrew, English and transliteration which usesthe Havurat Shalom liturgy and makes it possible for the entire community (over 100 people on High Holidays) to pray together. The Mahzor will be available electronically to all interested people and will enable other communities who share the values of this liturgy to access it, just as other Havurot and communities throughout the US have already been using Havurat Shalom’s Shabbat morning liturgy. Contact: Aliza Arzt

Comments are closed