Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), through its YES (Youth, Education, & Special Projects) Fund, has awarded $339,300 in grants to 15 programs that will strengthen Jewish life and provide the tools necessary for religious, social, and educational growth in North America, in Israel, and around the world.
These grants will help nurture Jewish youth engagement by supporting youth programs around the world, including middle and high school youth programs in North America, PJ Library, camps in the former Soviet Union (FSU), post-college Jewish advocacy fellowships, Bat Mitzvah education for Israeli girls, and scholarships for girls to attend a science and technology summer camp. Other grants will provide scholarships for rabbinical students and Jewish professional programs in North America, Berlin, London, and Moscow.
Since its founding in 1913, WRJ has been a primary funder of Reform and progressive Jewish causes, raising millions of dollars through its YES Fund. Major initiatives have included building the dormitory at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, purchasing the land for the former Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) headquarters in New York City, establishing the Jewish Braille Institute (now JBI International), founding North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), helping to establish the first Reform youth camp, and publishing the landmark The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary.
The 2017-2018 WRJ YES Fund grants were awarded to the following organizations and programs:
- URJ–WRJ PJ Library Partnership, $50,000: This program supports congregations in small communities throughout North America in implementing this Jewish family engagement program that provides free, high-quality Jewish children’s books and music to families with children ages six months to eight years old on a monthly basis.
- World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Youth Programs, $20,000: This grant supports international youth programs such as camps in the FSU, youth programs in South America, and travel to Israel for South African youth.
- URJ 6 Points Sci–Tech Academy Scholarships for Girls, $10,000: For the fourth year, WRJ will help encourage and support the participation of girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through these camp scholarships.
- URJ Kutz Camp Library, $25,000: This grant is the first installment of a $50,000 commitment to renovate the library of the Reform Movement’s camp for teen leaders.
- HUC–JIR Student Scholarships, $73,500: This grant covers half-tuition for two students at each North American campus (NYC, Cincinnati, LA) for any program (cantorial, rabbinical, education, communal service).
- Overseas Rabbinical Scholarships, $45,000: These scholarships support rabbinical students studying at Leo Baeck College (London), Abraham Geiger College (Germany), and the World Union for Progressive Judaism Machon Program (Moscow), who will serve Reform and Progressive communities outside of North America and Israel upon ordination.
- HUC–JIR (Jerusalem) Israel Rabbinical Program, $18,000: This grant supports the rabbinical training of Israeli students, who will serve Israeli Reform communities upon ordination.
- HUC–JIR Faculty Prize, $1,800: This award, given biannually, is presented to a faculty member who exemplifies the values and mission of WRJ.
- HUC–JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Cantorial Prize, $1,000: Given annually, this award is presented to a deserving cantorial student.
- Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) Eisendrath Legislative Assistant (Washington, D.C.), $15,000: This year-long fellowship allows a recent college graduate interested in Judaism, social justice, and policy to work on WRJ’s social justice legislative priorities and initiatives.
- Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) Special Grant, $50,000: This special grant will allow the RAC to live stream events and programs, which will engage a larger audience through social media, and help educate and mobilize our community in the pursuit of justice.
- Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Mother–Daughter Bat Mitzvah Program, $20,000: This program, which aligns with WRJ and IMPJ’s emphasis on gender equality, empowers young girls and strengthens their Jewish identity by emphasizing equality, life transitions, and connection to Judaism and the community.
- Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), $10,000: This grant supports advocacy efforts on behalf of religious pluralism, women, and vulnerable populations in Israel.