Meet the Jewish Innovation Funds Winners: Cutting-Edge Visionaries Driving Imaginative Programs—Including for Young Adults, Unaffiliated Jews
The Jewish Innovation Funds, a new grantmaking fund the Jewish Federation organized for innovative, leading-edge initiatives that meet local human needs and strengthen Jewish communities, today announced updates on what each of their four winning organizations for 2016 has accomplished in their initial three months. A total of $80,000 was awarded in 2016. The Jewish Innovation Funds macrogrants are funded by a giving circle—an innovative way to give in which a group of donors pool resources and make giving decisions together.
Meet Marie Krulewitch-Browne, Director, Ish, a fusion of Jewish and Israeli arts and culture, slated for Washington Park in September 2017. “It’s Nosh Your Typical Market!” Learn more at noshyourtypicalmarket.com.
What happened when you heard you’d won?
When I received the call that my grant had been awarded, my head was spinning with excitement! I was so honored to be given this opportunity, and I want to do this event justice.
What’s your biggest motivator now?
Our vision for the project—and we are well on our way—is to create a premier community-wide celebration of Jewish and Israeli arts and culture, with particular interest in promoting local and regional Jewish talent. Cincinnati has amazing and vibrant Jewish and Israeli artistic communities. We need a festival to celebrate and enjoy these riches.
We started by partnering with the Mayerson JCC in September to help produce their Farmer’s Market event. We had great success bringing nine new artistic vendors and a bluegrass band to the Market experience. Over the next few months I will be working to further build connections within the community, local artisans, and potential funders for Ish.
Meet Lander Gold, Senior Director, Moishe House, which brings to Cincinnati the national Moishe House concept of peer-led, home-based programming for young adults and their Jewish communities. Learn more at moishehouse.org/houses/Cincinnati or on Facebook.
What can you share about where Moishe House Cincinnati is at right now?
We envision Moishe House Cincinnati as a vibrant, go-to hub for young adult Jewish life that empowers the next generation of Jewish leaders to take the reins in their communities. We are proud to say that Moishe House’s Director of Expansion, Adam Dobrusin, has finalized the choice of three founding residents of Moishe House Cincinnati. We have this fantastic group: Ben Pagliaro, Sean Sherry, and Becca Pollak.
Ben is 22, born to a Reform Jewish family on Long Island, has done much work with Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, especially in songleading, and graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in music theory. Sean, 23, is from Rochester, New York, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology, is a manufacturing engineer at GE Aviation, a sergeant in the US Army Reserves, and an occasional travel blogger. Becca, age 23, is born and raised in Cincinnati, has been involved in the Jewish community and organizations throughout her life, graduated from Michigan State University in zoology, and is currently working at the Cincinnati Zoo through AmeriCorps.
Moishe House Cincinnati recently found a centrally located space. It is a handicap-accessible home, and one that has ample space for hosting programs. They just held their first event on November 11, aptly named “First Shabbat Dinner.”
Meet Lizzie Birckhead, Director, Six Points Collective, a Jewish organization that strives to create a spiritual sense of belonging and community among young Jewish professionals and millennials, rediscovering the 5000-year-old truth that Judaism is powerful, beautiful, and meaningful. Learn more at Six Points Collective on Facebook.
What inspires you to do this work?
I created this concept while searching for a community of my own. There is a disconnect between the Judaism of my childhood and what I want to be the Judaism of my future. Our primary goal is to move people spiritually. Six Points Collective wants to create worship experiences for young, unaffiliated Jews who are seeking a meaningful connection to their faith without the pressure of affiliation.
Where are you at now, three months in?
We’ve worked on our vision and feel strongly that each event embraces six core values: community, space, mindset, conversation, and spirituality. The community and space created by Six Points Collective allows people of all mindsets to engage in thoughtful conversation and music, expanding and expressing their spirituality in new ways.
We just had our first event, Six Points: Sukkot, on October 19 at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center in Silverton, and a little bit of rain couldn’t stop our celebrating! It was such a moving experience—a magical evening filled with spirituality, music, conversation, and openness.
Meet Maddie Jackson, Midwest Campus Coordinator, The David Project, who works with Cincinnati Hillel on Israel advocacy. This Boston-based organization recruits and trains Israel advocates on 50 campuses across the US. Learn more at davidproject.org or Cincinnati Hillel.
What is the goal or vision of your project?
Many Jewish students and members of the Israel community on campus feel stifled, targeted, or isolated. The David Project empowers student leaders to build mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships with diverse student organizations so that the pro-Israel community is integrated and valued on campus. In Cincinnati, we partner with Cincinnati Hillel to find influential Jewish and non-Jewish campus leaders, and expose them to a balanced view of modern Israel during our ten-day trip to Israel, Israel Uncovered: Campus Leaders’ Mission.
Is it true you have increased the number of non-Jewish leaders going to Israel from the University of Cincinnati by over 100%?
We are lucky to be building on success here. The cornerstone of our campus work is Israel Uncovered. Our trip is unique in that it brings Jewish and non-Jewish students leaders to Israel together, introducing them to Israel’s dynamic and complex society. Last year we had a very strong delegation from UC. Since returning, two of our non-Jewish participants ran together for student government and were elected Student Body President and Vice President; the other non-Jewish participant was so inspired he joined The David Project as a campus intern.
Our goal was to increase our impact by increasing the number of non-Jewish campus leaders to five, from two in the previous year. This year, we had a record 16 students apply for the trip! Rotem Ben-Lulu, the Israel Fellow at UC, and I interviewed each candidate and were thoroughly impressed. Ultimately we are actually able and so excited to bring seven student leaders from diverse communities on Israel Uncovered 2016-2017, one Jewish and six non-Jewish students.