Come join 300 friends, old and new, at this year’s Institute!
“You found favor in the desert”
Through this year’s theme, Matza Hein Bamidbar/Journeys and Oases, we will be exploring movement and rest, striving and solace. It is so precious to have an oasis to draw strength from, to look forward to, and to remember. Throughout the week, we will carve out a true oasis for ourselves at Institute as we create a community built on spirituality and social justice, study and song. We will draw on the sustenance and healing powers of friendships in our summer oasis, and hopefully come away fully rejuvenated as we continue our journeys.
The NHC is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2015 Innovation Fund grants. Seven creative and diverse projects will enrich grassroots Jewish living and learning this year with our community’s support. We are enthusiastic about bringing the NHC’s mission and vision to life through promoting these efforts! Thanks to committee members Mitch Chefitz, ed
Scott Rechler, Arlene Pincus, Rick Pincus, Deborah Hirsch Mayer, Becky Wolf, Lauren Tuchman, and Marisa Harford for their work on soliciting and selecting applications. If you have questions or comments about the Innovation Fund Grants, want to be connected to one of our Grantees, or want to get involved, please email nhcinnovationfund@
Albany Downtown Minyan
Altshul Beit Midrash
Reclaiming Tradition Inclusive Shabbaton
Arts Beit Midrash
Anachnu Survey Project
Detroit Jews for Justice
Albany Downtown Minyan, Albany, NY: The Albany Downtown Minyan is returning an organized Jewish community to downtown Albany, New York for the first time in approximately fifty years. Over the past six months to a year, a multigenerational group of Jews living in Albany’s downtown neighborhoods have begun coming together to conduct services once a month on Friday nights, meeting initially in the home of members of the group, and since December 2014 in space in a local church. The rebuilding of Jewish life in downtown Albany is of crucial importance to the members of this group and to the local community alike. While the Center Square neighborhood, where we meet and where most of the members live, was home to Albany’s largest Reform synagogue in the past, that congregation moved along in the 1950s and its monumental building is now occupied by a church. Since then, however, Center Square has become Albany’s premier neighborhood for young people, urban professionals, and those seeking the urban life. As Albany’s organized Jewish community moved out to the areas known as “near-burbia,” those seeking both to live in Albany’s most pleasant urban neighborhoods and to participate in Jewish community, including many young people, have been largely forced to choose between the two. We believe our project has the potential both to allow people to live the full lives they desire, and to make Jewish community accessible to new demographics. In partnership with NHC, Congregation Ohav Shalom, and other supporters, we are making this new community a reality. Contact: Sandy Johnston
Altshul Beit Midrash, Brooklyn, NY: We are creating an ongoing inter-generational study program, or Beit Midrash, for the Altshul community. The Beit Midrash has been conceived to create a forum for Torah study. As such, it gives us a place to:
- build community around the study of various Jewish texts
- use traditional texts to inform our struggle with the meaningful issues of our lives
introduce community members of multiple generations, new to the study of traditional Jewish sources, to the tools necessary for such study and the value it can hold.
The Altshul Intergenerational Beit Midrash is a program of a lay-led grass roots community, open to all, that aims to provide a forum for Jewish learning and community building. It will meet on average twice a month, including participants who regularly attend (at least ten adults and six children in first through third grades) and participants who drop in when they can. It will build community between children and adults, as well as among adults, and will create a forum where people can bring questions and increase their comfort with the study of Torah, including Talmudic sources, and ancient and modern commentaries, presented in a variety of formats. It will also facilitate Torah study within families, and provide the community’s children with tools to have meaningful Torah study as an ongoing part of their lives. The Beit Midrash will transform our community into one that not only prays together, but also studies together. Contact: Sharon Jacker
Nedivut Tzedek /Generous Justice: Generous Justice has been created to renew the Jewish practices of tithing, which grew out of the rhythms of the shmita cycle and can bring justice into our own hands—no matter what we earn. Following an initial project year of collaborative development and outreach, Generous Justice will be formally launched with a special leadership training at the 2015 NHC Summer Institute. The Innovation Fund renewal grant will support ongoing collaboration with stakeholders and supporters in and out of the NHC, recruitment and screening of training candidates, and publication of a training resource manual. Contact: Regina Sandler-Phillips
Reclaiming Tradition Inclusive Shabbaton: Reclaiming Tradition will bring together young LGBTQ Jews who have been marginalized within Jewish community. Our intention is to foster reconnection for attendees with tradition and Jewish ritual around Shabbat. This project will create safe(r) space for marginalized Jews to explore their complicated relationships to Judaism and to each other. It is an opportunity for community repair and healing using Jewish song and rituals to create a transformative spiritual experience. Reclaiming Tradition will have a strong component of Jewish living and learning – specifically by utilizing the power of singing, praying and eating together. We will create space for discussion around Jewish identity and community building, and we hope to support young LGBTQ Jews in bringing Jewish practice into their daily lives. We see this work as anti-oppressive, inclusive and powerful in its ability to make positive change within Jewish community. Contact: Andi Yumansky
Arts Beit Midrash, Toronto, ON: The Art Beit Midrash program will bring together participants for five unique sessions of creative exploration of the intersection between Judaism and artistic practice. Sessions will open with a presentation/study on a theme or historical Jewish approach to art-making. Themes may include: creation stories, repair/tikkun, Temple, Talmud/layers, prayer, aleph-bet/calligraphy. In this beit midrash space we are also aware of a certain hegemony of text whereby textual expressions of Judaism takes precedence over other avenues of Jewish engagement. We will attempt to work around this bias and include visual auditory experiential work as a reference. The bulk of each monthly session will be made available for studio time. In the model of a beit midrash, collaborative partnering will be encouraged to plan, work and question together. Sources of inspiration connected to the historical period/theme being explored that week will be available throughout the session, The space will not be exclusively geared to one medium. Paint, ink, paper, film, fabric, dance space will all be made available to allow experimentation in different modes. Each session will end with a short presentation or reflection from participants, culminating in a final showing of participant work over the course of the Beit Midrash.
Contact: Aaron Rotenberg
Anachnu Survey Project: Creating Inclusive and Empowering Jewish Spaces for Jews with Disabilities: Since its inception, the Havurah movement has been instrumental in welcoming Jews alienated by traditional Jewish institutions by creating broadly inclusive and empowering Jewish spaces. For Jews with disabilities, who are too often excluded from the Jewish world by access barriers and lack of understanding, the existence of such open, welcoming spaces is especially important. And yet, despite important strides, knowledge in Havurah communities about how to include Jews with disabilities is still incomplete. Our project will reach out to Jews with disabilities about unmet needs, and teach communities how to reduce barriers to participation and start to rebuild trust with disabled Jews who currently feel unwelcome. Our goal is to help communities enact more fully their commitment to inclusiveness and to the empowerment of all Jews.
Contact: Jessica Belasco
Detroit Jews for Justice, Detroit, MI: DJJ mobilizes Jewish individuals and institutions to engage with communities in Metropolitan Detroit to work toward systemic changes for and with people of color, women, low-income workers, the unemployed, immigrants, GLBT and others affected by inequality. Drawing from Jewish history, tradition, and culture, DJJ seeks to create a culture of activism which is rooted and sustaining, and which fosters meaningful community. As we set out on our first year, we are carving out space for intergenerational connection and expansive visioning about our work together. A retreat full of conversation, learning, singing and enjoying nature will help us build a strong foundation upon which to continue growing our community and deepen our commitment to working for change. Contact: Alana Alpert