From a community activist staring down gun violence block by block on the South Side of Chicago, to an anti-poverty advocate in Uganda mobilizing rural residents to make face masks to protect neighbors from Coronavirus, ten Jewish women – all demonstrating the power to create social change and address global challenges – were named today to the 2020 Collective of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York (JWFNY).
The Collective, a JWFNY initiative that launched last year, is an incubator for Jewish women change makers who combine vision, innovation, and leadership to address critical societal needs and issues – both existing and emerging – primarily affecting women and girls locally and around the world.
Each member of the Collective will receive three years of capacity building and general operating support; professional development funding; and, immersive study of leadership and organizational growth with a customized curriculum facilitated by Ruth Messinger, Past President and current Global Ambassador of the American Jewish World Service. In addition, they will receive access to a formal and dynamic network of Jewish women visionaries for idea exchanges, support, and collaboration, and, a platform to raise awareness of their work, issue areas, and impact.
“JWFNY is investing in strong and innovative Jewish women who are tackling some of the world’s most intractable challenges,” said Jamie Allen Black, CEO of JWFNY. “They are authoritative sources for solutions, and their voices, ideas, and perspectives must be elevated – especially now as the world faces a pandemic that is deepening and unleashing all forms of social, health, and economic challenges sparing no one.”
The ten were named and honored during a JWFNY streaming event, “Be-JEWEL-ed: An Online Celebration of Social Entrepreneurs,” the title of which reflects the Foundation’s name for members of the Collective – JEWELs, Jewish Entrepreneurial Women Executives and Leaders. The event was retooled from an in-person gathering due to the Coronavirus pandemic and can be viewed on the JWFNY website.
“We are very proud to support these ten remarkable, visionary leaders, who bring such deep passion and unrelenting commitment to their work as well as a unique ability to affect and accelerate social change in their communities,” said Rachel Weinstein, President of JWFNY, who spoke at the event.
“The current pandemic has further exposed inequities within our society. Our JEWELs have already been working to disrupt the system in order to balance the scales and we will need their voices to be leading the charge as we navigate through and emerge from this crisis, and look to create more sustainable models for the future.”
JWFNY’s 2020 Collective includes:
- Michelle Horovitz, Co–Founder and Executive Director, Appetite for Change, based in Minneapolis. A former public defender with experience in the culinary industry, Horovitz is creating social, racial, and health equity in North Minneapolis by breaking systemic barriers preventing access to fresh and nourishing food; enhancing the ability of individuals and families to make positive food choices; and, creating communities of support and opportunity through business enterprises and training programs.
- Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, based in New York. Rabbi Jacobs heads an organizational network of more than 2,000 rabbis and cantors in the U.S. and Canada advocating for a variety of human rights issues across North America, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, and works to empower and equip rabbis, cantors, and Jewish theological students to embrace and practice the role of human rights activist.
- Idit Klein, President and CEO, Keshet, based in Boston. Committed to social justice and anti-oppression education, Klein leads an organization and movement committed to making LGBTQ participation and equality a Jewish communal value and imperative by enabling Jewish organizations to build affirming, inclusive communities and advancing LGBTQ rights nationwide.
- Tamar Manasseh, Founder and President, MASK: Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings, based in Chicago. Manasseh, a mother on the South Side of Chicago, has built a neighborhood-based group of activist citizens dedicated to uplifting their communities through violence prevention, education, food security initiatives, alliances, and advocacy. The program has expanded to under-resourced neighborhoods in Evansville, IN, Memphis, TN, and New York City.
- Michal Gera Margaliot, Executive Director, Israel Women’s Network, based in Tel Aviv. Margaliot, an attorney devoted to seeking and promoting equal rights for women, leads an organization promoting gender equality in the social, military, economic, judicial, and other spheres in Israel, and acting as a center for effective mobilization and activism by allied groups.
- Brooke Stern Okoth, CEO and Co–Founder, S.O.U.L. Foundation, (Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn) based in New York and Uganda. With a background in nursing and integrative physiology, Okoth created a new, holistic approach to addressing poverty in 30 Ugandan villages, impacting the lives of over 14,000 Ugandans by providing education, women’s empowerment opportunities, food security, and maternal health initiatives.
- Yael Rockman, Executive Director, Kolech, based in Jerusalem. As an attorney and feminist Orthodox activist with a background defending the rights of Jewish women to obtain a religious divorce, Rockman leads the first Orthodox Jewish feminist organization in Israel disseminating values of gender equality and mutual respect, encouraging equal opportunities for women in personal, public and religious spheres, and defeating gender violence.
- Michal Avera Samuel, Executive Director, The Fidel Association, based in Lod, Israel. Samuel is a social leader and educational activist advocating for the successful integration of Ethiopian Israelis. As head of The Fidel Association, she designs and directs programs empowering Ethiopian Israeli individuals and families through youth, education, parenting, and health awareness programs.
- Meg Sullivan, Founder and Director, JCC Harlem, based in New York. As founding director of the JCC Harlem, Sullivan is establishing the institution as not only a convener for members of a diverse Jewish community, but also a connector and relationship-builder between Jewish groups and those from other backgrounds for dialogue and joint service, learning, and advocacy projects.
- Viviana Waisman, Founder, President and CEO, Women’s Link Worldwide, based in Spain. Waisman, an attorney and authority on women’s rights and international human rights law, leads a global organization that through the judiciary advocates and litigates for new standards to advance the human rights of women and girls – from sexual and reproductive rights to gender violence protections.
The ten members of JWFNY’s 2020 Collective were selected from a pool of 300 social entrepreneurs after a rigorous vetting and interview process by over 50 of JWFNY’s visionary philanthropists and activists. JWFNY focused on identifying extraordinary women leading community- and movement-building organizations to create social and economic change in a broad range of populations.