Bronfman Youth Fellowship Announces Alumni Venture Fund Grants

The Bronfman Youth Fellowship has announced eight projects  to receive BYFI Alumni Venture Fund (AVF) grants. Each grant was carefully vetted by the Alumni Advisory Board, based on creativity, feasibilityand relevance to BYFI’s values.

Donations from alumni and their families support twice-yearly grantmaking through the Alumni Venture Fund.

The recipients are:

Ohr HaLev – Institute for Jewish Spirituality (Israel and North America) Danny Cohen ’04

Ohr HaLev works to make the rich teachings of Jewish spirituality accessible for Jews who seek to deepen their Jewish practice and “to provide Jews with a rich, meaningful, transformative and relevant Jewish life and spiritual path.” Ohr HaLev accomplishes this by offering weekend and weeklong retreats as well as meditation and mindfulness workshops. The Institute welcomes Jews of all backgrounds and persuasions, operating with a non-judgmental and open philosophy.

CSESS Education Seminars (New York City) Elisabeth Cohen ’01

CSESS brings Harvard undergraduates to teach enrichment classes in New York City high schools for two weeks. This year, with the help of an AVF grant, CSESS added a new element to their programming for instructors: seminars with education professionals (including Ariela Rothstein ’05) to contextualize the instructors’ work and experiences. These seminars “offered undergraduate instructors perspective into the education system within which they’re working in a way that both informed their work in the classroom and helped them get more out of it.”

Sulam – The Brookline Jewish Afterschool Program (Brookline, MA) Yoni Engelhart ’96

In response to the steep prices of Jewish day school tuition, a group of families in Brookline are taking matters into their own hands and creating a new model for afterschool Jewish education. Sulam will “provide children in kindergarten through 5th grade with carefully designed curriculum to develop strong Jewish knowledge, study skills, intuition, and identity, and to prepare students for success in 6th grade at any of Boston’s Jewish day schools.” Their doors will open in September 2012; the school will operate four days per week to offer the strongest and most comprehensive education possible.

Keshet: Mobilizing Hillel Leaders for Inclusion and Equality (North America) Idit Klein ’89

Keshet has worked with a number of Jewish youth organizations including NFTY, BBYO, and USY to promote inclusion and open conversation around LGBTQ identity. This new initiative will extend training and resources to professional staff and lay leaders in campus Hillels, fostering development of LGBT-inclusive programming as well as safe, celebratory spaces for LGBT students.

The Kavana Cooperative: Holiday – Prep & Practice Series (for Adults!) (Seattle, WA) Rachel Nussbaum ’93

The Kavana Cooperative, a model for innovative Jewish engagement and programming, is offering the opportunity for adults without children to explore possibilities for Jewish holiday practice within a pluralistic and nurturing framework. An AVF grant is funding a series of workshops, centered on text study and hands-on education about ritual, which encourage participants to grapple with the infinite options for Jewish practice while building community. A similar program for young families has been successful for the past five years and Kavana seeks to enrich the ritual practice of another demographic within the community.

Kevah Curricula Development (San Francisco, CA) Noa Silver ’04

Kevah (founded by Sara Bamberger YOZMA), is dedicated to grassroots Jewish learning and to facilitating pluralistic study of traditional Jewish texts. Kevah has grown tremendously since its inception and is now working to expand and support its network of educators. The AVF grant will allow for the development of curricular resources which can be shared and replicated among different Kevah groups.

Princeton Shechita Seminar (Princeton, NJ) David Wolkenfeld ’97

In January 2012, Princeton hosted 10 students and recent university graduates (including William Herlands ’06 and Mateo Aceves ’06) for an intensive, weeklong seminar on shechita (ritual slaughter). Participants delved into the principles of shechita law and were trained in how to prepare, slaughter, and clean a chicken according to Jewish law. In addition to teaching the participants about the process of shechita, one of the program’s goals was to empower young adults within the traditional community to maintain independence from industrial animal farming.

Cafe Olam (Philadelphia, PA) Susan Pultman ’99

Café Olam, a collaboration between The Little Shul, the Collaborative, Congregation Rodeph Shalom, and many other Philadelphia Jewish community organizations, is revitalizing an historic South Philadelphia synagogue by making it a hub for young Jews in their 20s and 30s committed to community building and urban sustainable living. Through a series of events and the dedication of a communal physical space, Café Olam is carrying out what it calls “Urban ReJEWal,” an effort to connect Jewish community members to each other and to the neighborhood.