Fifty years ago, an entrepreneurial Akron couple started a small foundation to carry out their commitment to and passion for tzedakah. Today, what Goldie and Jerry Lippman began in 1966 has become a philanthropic enterprise that involves multiple generations of their family. To mark this jubilee, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah launched a prize competition to recognize programs that help people apply Jewish wisdom to live better lives and shape a better world from among a field of over 200 applicants. The Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom has now completed its first award cycle and is pleased to name six exceptional awardees.
The top prize winner in the Local category is Hadran Alach: Bringing Our Jewish Agricultural Heritage to Life, a program of the Pearlstone Center in Baltimore, MD. Each year Pearlstone inspires over 20,000 individuals of all ages by bringing Jewish agricultural wisdom to life, embodying this aspect of our ancient, rich Jewish tradition.
The top prize winner in the National category is Ask Big Questions Jewish Conversation Guides, a program of Ask Big Questions, established by Hillel International. Since 2011, Ask Big Questions has created over 30 conversation guides that bring Jewish wisdom to catalyze and frame conversations on issues like social justice, diversity, inclusion, forgiveness, and other “big questions” that we all face as humans.
Four runners-up have been selected to receive additional prizes. In the local category, these programs are: B’naiture Pre-teen Rite of Passage and Mentorship, a program of Wilderness Torah in Berkeley, CA, and Milwaukee Jewish Artists’ Laboratory, a program of the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, WI. B’naiture is a ground-breaking two-year rite-of-passage journey for pre-teens that integrates Jewish wisdom, nature connection, and mentorship. The Jewish Artists’ Lab is a community of professional Jewish artists that meets to study texts together, exploring their meanings and relevance to their personal and professional lives.
In the national category, the runners-up are: Encounter, based in New York and Israel, and The Urban Adamah Fellowship, a program of Urban Adamah, based in Berkeley, CA. Encounter is a non-partisan educational organization that seeks to galvanize constructive Jewish leadership on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through experiential programs – including dialogue with Palestinians – that embody core Jewish values like active listening (shema), respect for multiple perspectives (elu v’elu), and love of one’s people (ahavat yisrael). The Urban Adamah Fellowship is a residential, immersive, eco-spiritual, Jewish-social justice bootcamp for young Jews that incorporates Jewish wisdom on sustainable agriculture and social justice.
“One of our guiding principles when we established this prize was the Jewish sensibility na’aseh v’nishmah, ‘we will do and [then] we will understand,’” noted Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Foundation Board Chair. “We expected to learn throughout this inaugural process, and indeed our understanding of applying Jewish wisdom deepened with every application we read. In particular, our winners’ impact unequivocally shows the power and promise of applying Jewish wisdom. And we are thrilled by the diversity and quality of the larger applicant pool; we all have much yet to learn from those who are actively engaged in this sacred work.”
The prizes will be awarded at a ceremony during the Jewish Futures Conference on December 14, 2016, in New York, with $18,000 going to the top prize winners and $6,000 each to the runners-up in each category. Winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges, including: Felicia Herman, Executive Director of Natan, Larry S. Moses, Senior Advisor to the Wexner Foundation, Toby Rubin, founder of Upstart, Jeffrey R. Solomon, Senior Advisor, Chasbro Investments, and Andrés Spokoiny, President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network.
The Prize launched in June with open applications, and the Foundation was overwhelmed by the positive response, and recognized more than 200 Semifinalists and 12 Finalists. All Prize Winners, Finalists, and Semifinalists are profiled in an online portfolio at www.lippmankanferprize.org.