Introducing the Slingshot Class of 2012-2013

Slingshot present’s the eighth annual edition of Slingshot: A Resource Guide for Jewish Innovation, featuring 50 inspirational organizations, in Jewish life in North America. Fourteen additional organizations have been identified as the Standard Bearers, having been previously listed in at least five editions of Slingshot. These Standard Bearers continue to exemplify Slingshot’s core criteria of innovation, impact, leadership and organizational efficacy.

Slingshot organizations grapple with concerns in Jewish life such as identity, community, social justice and tradition, each with different missions, perspectives and strategies. The Slingshot resource guide is distributed to 7,500 funders, foundation professionals and organizational leaders annually, in addition to tens of thousands of online downloads. Readers use Slingshot to identify the most inspiring projects,and programs in the North American Jewish community today. Since its inception, Slingshot has highlighted 173 innovative Jewish organizations in North America.

Slingshot organizations are selected from among hundreds of nominees based on their strength in four areas: innovation, impact, leadership and organizational efficiency.

Selected Trends and Stats

  1. Since 2007, women have headed approximately 50% of the organizations and projects listed in Slingshot; this year that figure has increased to 64%.
  2. Since 2009, the number of Slingshot organizations or projects headed by ordained rabbis has been on the rise. This year’s figure is 18%.
  3. The five most frequently self-selected program areas in Slingshot ’12-’13 are Jewish Education, Community Building, Leadership Development, Social Justice and Arts and Culture.
  4. There are 19 organizations or projects listed in this year’s Slingshot guide that have not been recognized in prior editions; the average inception year is (approximately) 2008 and average budget size is around $308,000. Half are either initiatives of larger organizations or independent projects supported by local Federations.

Here are this year’s 14 Standard Bearers followed by the Slingshot 50 (all in alphabetical order):

  1. Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community
  2. Bend the Arc
  3. Encounter
  4. Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life
  5. Hazon
  6. IKAR
  7. InterfaithFamily
  8. Keshet
  9. Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center
  10. Mechon Hadar
  11. Moishe House
  12. Moving Traditions
  13. Reboot
  14. Sharsheret: Your Jewish Community Facing Breast Cancer
  1. A Wider Bridge
  2. ACCESS, AJC’s new generation program
  3. Amir
  4. Ask Big Questions, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
  5. BBYO Panim Institute
  6. Be’chol Lashon
  7. Bible Raps
  8. Challah for Hunger
  9. CommunityNEXT
  10. Council of Jewish Émigré Community organizations (COJECO)
  11. Eden Village Camp
  12. Footsteps, Inc.
  13. Gateways: Access to Jewish Education
  14. G-dcast
  15. Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation
  16. GLOE – Kurlander Program for GLBT Outreach and Engagement
  18. Havuraj Summer Program/Camp Tel Yehudah
  19. Hebrew Senior Life Chaplaincy Institute
  20. Hidden Sparks
  21. Innovation: Africa
  22. J’Burgh
  23. Jewcology
  24. Jewish Community Action
  25. Jewish Education Project, The
  26. Jewish Farm School
  27. Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn
  28. Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
  29. Kavana Cooperative, The
  30. Kevah: Making Space for Jewish Learning
  31. Matan
  32. MazelTot, an initiative of Rose Community Foundation
  33. MyJewishLearning, Inc.
  34. National Yiddish Book Center
  35. Or Tzedek: Teen Institute for Social Justice
  37. Pearlstone Center
  38. Rabbis for Human Rights – North America
  39. Rabbis Without Borders
  40. Ramah Service Corps, The
  41. Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council
  42. Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists
  43. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
  44. Tarbuton, Israeli Cultural Center
  45. Tribe, The
  46. Urban Adamah
  47. Uri L’Tzedek
  48. Wilderness Torah
  49. Wise Aging, a project of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality
  50. Women’s Jewish Learning Center, The
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  1. Anonyjew says

    As of this writing, this post has received 69 tweets, 376 likes and 25 shares on Facebook. The celebratory mood on twitter and facebook is almost carnival-like! But will anyone have the gumption to rain on this parade? To call it like it is? Is Slingshot really an accurate “compilation of the most inspiring and innovative organizations, projects, and programs in the North American Jewish community today?” Furthermore, do Slingshot’s Standard Bearers really resoundingly exemplify “innovation, impact, leadership and organizational efficacy?”

    I’m not going to go into too much detail. Certainly many if not most of the organizations highlighted by Slingshot are run by dedicated and hardworking individuals doing valuable work. But one has to wonder to what extent the organizations chosen represent the very most innovative blah blah blah and to what extent they merely reflect pre-determined organized Jewish community agendas.

    What bothers me is that with Slingshot and others in the business of exploiting, err… I mean encouraging Jewish innovation, the focus is less on the actual innovators and more on the kingmakers, the bestowers of communal hechshers, seals of approval and, if you play nice, elusive dollars.

    I wonder if anyone will address my points, or if this will make it past moderation. But silence is acquiescence and I felt compelled to say something.

  2. Dan Brown says

    If a comment is on topic, and written respectfully, it makes it past moderation. We approve comments we agree with and we approve comments we do not agree with. We do not censor comments. Ever.

  3. Jesse says

    While some of the ideas produced by some of these organizations are revolutionary and innovative, some of the organizations are far from innovative. At one point they certainly were, but now, they are the norm. To call this a list that is innovative is inaccurate. What it really is is a list of ideas that Bronfman likes so chooses to support

  4. says

    Hi Anon-
    As we say in the guide, Slingshot isn’t a scientific study of the most innovative projects in Jewish life. Because it’s based on who applies, and natural evaluation flaws, it’s bound to be incomplete. Of course, each year we strive to make it more complete and accurate. Please see the endorsements from six respected “auditors” in the methodology section.

    The *point* of Slingshot is to highlight organizations seeking to make Jewish life relevant, to provide a sense of belonging to Jews who may not feel served/welcomed by existing projects, and to introduce promising projects to funders. Slingshot has infinite respect for the innovators making these organizations happening, along with hundreds that don’t make it onto our finite list. I believe that with each passing guide, it becomes easier for Jews across the country with innovative ideas to be successful. I know it’s true because I myself learned there was such a thing as “innovative” Jewish organizations by reading a copy of Slingshot many years ago, and it changed my relationship to the Jewish community.

    I don’t know why specifically you feel that this list is exploitive, or how you feel it could be more supportive, but I know that Slingshot is proud to be part of the growing community of funders and support projects seeking to increase the odds of success for innovators. As for dollars, they are too elusive for everyone, but I don’t think that problem is made worse by Slingshot, and I think we’ve done work to improve the funding odds.

    I am the first to admit that lists like this have flaws, but I believe that not highlighting the work of passionate, dedicated, leaders would be a greater flaw. To those missing from this list, please apply in the future and make our list better.

    If you have a better idea to highlight and support innovators, I’d like to hear more and I encourage you to reach out to will (at) to discuss it further.

    Will Schneider, Executive Director of Slingshot

    (as of this posting, the like count is up to 432!)

  5. says

    Congratulations to Slingshot and all of the people who overcame uncounted naysayers to create these impactful programs. The guide, highlighting best practices nationally, was a factor that helped inspire our leadership to invest in Jewish innovation in San Diego. Kudos to Jennie Starr, whose determination, expertise and long hours of work led to the success of Tarbuton, an Israeli Cultural Center, and the first listing, this year, of a San Diego based project in Slingshot.

  6. Jeffrey Yahooda.Sternberg says

    As Ben-Gurion often said in life time, ” Deeds count, more than words!”

    Concerning innovation in igniting Torah Consciousness in 5773 as my team organizes, funds, launches our web site, progrmmatics there in , and operates Ohr Somayach Media in Monsey, New York for the purpose techncosmic kirev market penetration, we seek the approval and support of Ha kodesh Baruch in our future endeavors.

    With such support, stay tuned for what we, the founders of Ohr Somayach Media will achieve as facts on the ground in this coming year and the growth of affilates rather quickly after start up stabilization in (1) New York City, (2) Boston, (3) Atlanta, (4) Silicon Valley, (5) Beverly Hills, (6) Chicago, (7) Miami, (8) Jerusalem, (9) Beersheba/Sde Boker, (10)Toronto, (11) Montreal, (12 Quebec (13) Mexico City, (14) Rio De Janeiro, (15)London, (16) New Amsterdam, (17) Paris, (18) Warsaw, (19) Budapest, (20). Moscow, (21) (22) Johannesberg. (23) New Dehli, and (24) Beijung in the next two years to five years, therafter, and certainly, no later than 2020.