Grant giving

Jewish women’s groups announce $700,500 in grants for coming year

Hadassah Foundation focuses on advocacy, education and legislation to promote women in leadership positions; Women of Reform Judaism gives to 22 groups from its Youth, Education, & Special Projects (YES) Fund

Two Jewish women’s grant-making organizations – the Hadassah Foundation and the Women of Reform Judaism – recently announced their slates of grantees for the coming year, totaling $700,500 in funding, including grants to some first-time recipients.

On Wednesday, Hadassah Foundation released its list of “core” $80,000 grants to five organizations that it said addressed its key focus for this year: “Biases in hiring and advancement and increasing the number and influence of women and girls in leadership.”

Three of the five Hadassah Foundation grantees are first-time recipients: Israel’s Forum Dvorah, which works to promote women in the fields of national security and foreign policy; the U.S.-based Gender Equity in Hiring Project, which looks to help women obtain leadership positions in Jewish communal organizations; and the Israeli QueenB, which looks to increase the number of women working in Israel’s high-tech industry. The other two recipients, Israel Women’s Network and Itach Ma’aki Women Lawyers for Social Justice, have both been previously funded by Hadassah Foundation.

Speaking to eJewishPhilanthropy, Hadassah Foundation Chair Audrey Weiner said the five recipients reflected the organization’s new strategic plan, which was released earlier this year, that focuses the organization’s grants on advocacy, education and legislation, not on direct service providers – “even though we are very impressed by the direct service that is being done in Israel and the U.S.” 

Weiner said the recipients of its “core” grants receive the $80,000 over the course of three years. In addition to these “core” grants, the foundation offers a $130,000 “visionary partners” grant and two smaller grants, a new “spark” grant – $20,000 in unrestricted funds – for startup organizations and a discretionary grant of up to $5,000 that can be issued by the foundation’s staff directly for time-sensitive issues. The foundation said that three new “spark” grants would be announced later this summer.

Weiner said that while the foundation’s grants are not particularly large in terms of dollar amounts, the organization believes that its vetting process gives its grantees “the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, if you’ll forgive the old expression.” Stephanie Blumenkranz, the director of the foundation, added that a number of federation-affiliated women’s giving funds around the U.S. specifically look to Hadassah Foundation for guidance in who they should support, specifically naming the San Francisco Jewish Women’s Fund. 

Weiner said the committee selecting the recipients for this year’s “core” grants had an “enormous, passionate discussion” about including initiatives that address women’s reproductive health in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and decided that it would ultimately refrain from doing so.

“Our committee was working on the themes [for this year’s grants] as Roe was overturned,” she said. “The place we came to was that the impact that we could have through these ‘core’ grants, even if we went into the space of reproductive rights, was not going to be as significant, and there were many, many organizations and lots and lots of money – even if it wasn’t enough – that was going into that space.”

The Women of Reform Judaism directed $300,500 in grants this year through its Youth, Education, & Special Projects (YES) Fund, it said. In total, WRJ provided grants of different sizes to 22 organizations or initiatives, from $2,500 for “ish Queer Torah study,” a nine-month fellowship for queer-identifying Jewish adults, up to $60,500 – roughly a fifth of this year’s funding – for rabbinical scholarships at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion’s three U.S. campuses. 

A $36,000 grant was directed to fund the Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Fellowship at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., which WRJ said is “designed for a recent college graduate who will focus on the intersection of Judaism, social justice, policy, and women’s rights issues.” A $20,000 grant will go toward a program encouraging women to serve as prayer leaders in Reform and other progressive congregations. An $18,500 grant will go to a scholarship to encourage Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking women to pursue rabbinical careers.

WRJ’s other grants went to programs addressing a variety of issues, some specifically and directly related to women, like a $15,000 grant to the Women’s Rabbinic Network Paid Family and Medical Leave Project, and others that are not, like a $10,000 grant to Be’chol Lashon Video Production to create films about the Ethiopian Jewish Sigd holiday. (The full list can be found here.)

“Over the course of 110 years, WRJ has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Reform Jewish institutions, organizations, and programs that support youth, education, advocacy, and special initiatives. Along with the recent expansion of grants to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, WRJ strengthens the broad and diverse Jewish community of today and empowers the leaders of tomorrow,” WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla J. Feldman said in a statement.