Can Pew Help Us Renew?

By Rabbi Hayim Herring We're less than a week away from Rosh ha-Shanah, the peak season for personal introspection and communal reflection. Reflection on the American Jewish community leads me back to almost a year ago, when the Pew’s Study, A Portrait of Jewish Americans, was released. In speaking with two colleagues the other day about a program involving my forthcoming book, Keeping Faith in Rabbis. A Community Conversation About Rabbinical Education, and how the one-year anniversary of Pew Study might serve as context for the program, they both commented: “Pew is old news, our people have already moved on.” I should have expected their remark - after all, the initial response to the Pew Study a year ago by many observers of Jewish life was, “There are no surprises in it.” … [Read more...]

NFTY: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Photo of Justin Felder- NFTY

[NFTY - The Reform Jewish Youth Movement is celebrating its 75th! In recognition, eJP invited 4 NFTY alumni - representing 4 different decades - to share their thoughts on the influence NFTY has had on their lives.] By Justin Felder I’ll always remember that feeling of disbelief, and I’m still not totally cool with it. I was 16 years old at a NFTY event in Coral Springs, and the regional president took to the podium and announced that the annual Mitzvah Corps project NFTY-SAR and NFTY-STR co-worked on all summer would be cancelled. It was pure havoc: people walked out, tears were falling; the whole nine. But it wasn’t cancelled - it was a ‘socio-drama.’ While at first I didn’t understand the point of the exercise, it proved something to me that I’ve incorporated throughout my life and … [Read more...]

1st Federation-Affiliated Jewish Women’s Fund to Launch as Independent Entity

An autonomous Jewish Women’s Foundation will be able to ensure accountability to its stakeholders, build its own infrastructure, and make its own investment decisions. The Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches plans to become the first of 24 national Jewish women’s funds affiliated with a local federation to establish itself as an autonomous organization. “Twelve years ago, an insightful and committed group of forward thinking Jewish women came together to implement a new philanthropic model for affecting social change to support women and girls in our community and around the world,” said Tami Baldinger, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches. “Our local Jewish Federation saw the potential, supporting and nurturing our Foundation to … [Read more...]

L’Dor V’Dor: My Evolution Through Joshua Venture Group’s Dual Investment Program and Words of Wisdom for the Incoming Fellows

By Matt Bar Two years ago, when I learned that I had been selected as a 2012-2014 Fellow for Joshua Venture Group’s (JVG) Dual Investment Program, I couldn’t believe that I would be joining the ranks of such respected, successful, and impactful individuals. The vote of confidence it gave me that I, too, showed promise like the founders of Sharsheret, JDub Records, Keshet, G-dcast, Challah for Hunger, and numerous others who were a part of the program’s prestigious group of alumni was invaluable. I was thrilled to receive validation of my venture, Bible Raps, and of my potential as a social entrepreneur. The $80,000 in unrestricted funds, and $14,000 in funds specifically designated to growing my endeavor and my own professional and leadership development, were equally as exciting. This … [Read more...]

Joshua Venture Group Announces 2014-16 Cohort: First All Female Cohort of Jewish Social Entrepreneurs

Joshua Venture Group (JVG) has announced the selection of the 2014-2016 Dual Investment Program cohort which is comprised of six female social entrepreneurs with visions for creating a more dynamic, just, and inclusive Jewish community. Each Fellow will receive more than $100,000 in funding and skill building support over two years to develop their ventures and nurture their leadership and management skills, ensuring the growth of organizations that will strengthen and enhance the Jewish community. JVG, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reinvigorating and expanding the Jewish community through building the capacity of young ventures and their leadership, carefully chose the exceptional group from a rigorous application process launched in spring 2014. For the first time, the Program called … [Read more...]

Crisis, Opportunity and Engaging Birthrighters

By Andrew Fretwell Moments of crisis often reveal many insights about our Jewish community, if we can decode them properly. What can this “moment,” this conflict in Gaza and swelling tide of global anti-Semitism, teach us about our community here in the United States? Right now, we can see whether or not we provide a Jewish space where we can safely wrestle with ourselves and one another - specifically about Israel - and grow our ideas and relationships in the process. Our aspirations for how future generations of American Jews relate to Israel will in many ways be determined by the presence of such spaces. The 265,000 young American Jews who have gone on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips offer an unprecedented opportunity to reinvigorate our community’s culture of reflection and ideation. … [Read more...]

Birthright Israel and Intermarriage

By Edmund Case and Jodi Bromberg Taglit-Birthright Israel may well be the most effective program ever designed and implemented to strengthen Jewish engagement among young Jews. A just-released study confirms many positive impacts of Birthright Israel on marriage and family choices. At InterfaithFamily we greatly appreciate that participation in Birthright Israel is open to young adult Jews whose parents are intermarried; the new study says that 17% of participants from 2001 to 2006 have one Jewish parent and that recent trip cohorts include a larger proportion of those individuals. We have published several articles by trip participants about their very positive trip experiences and hope they have had some effect in alleviating any concerns children of intermarried parents might have about … [Read more...]

Opening The Door

By Rabbi Adam Greenwald and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson Resisting the storm of ethnic panic that erupted after last year’s publication of the Pew Study of American Jews, the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program at American Jewish University (AJU) is an oasis of calm. Sit in on a class and you’ll see a Persian Muslim lawyer struggling to learn her Hebrew phonics, next to a tattooed Harley Davidson rider who is saving up for separate meat and dairy dishes and a single mom studying Talmud with her teenage son. Crisis? What crisis? Conversion programs are the single most powerful (and cost-effective) vehicles to ensuring Jewish continuity and growth in an era of steep decline. Programs, like the one at AJU, which provide adults with serious Jewish education and personalized support in … [Read more...]