In June 2006, Rabbi Shai Held, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer and Rabbi Ethan Tucker, launched Mechon Hadar: An Institute for Prayer, Personal Growth and Jewish Study. Based in New York City, the founders have spent years teaching and building Jewish community, and have served as founders and leaders of Kehilat Hadar, an independent, egalitarian community committed to spirited traditional prayer, study and social action.
Last week they kicked off summer number three by welcoming forty-one fellows to their intensive yeshiva program – their largest class of fellows to date. These young Jews from diverse backgrounds will spend the next eight weeks immersed in Jewish texts and traditions as part of a Jewish community focused on study, prayer, and social action.
The forty-one represent twenty-seven cities across the globe; and each has committed to return to these communities and engage their peers in building vibrant Jewish communities to revitalize Jewish life for the 21st century.
Also, in just a few short months they will open the doors as the first ever full-time, year-round, egalitarian yeshiva in North America. With initial support from, among others, The Avi Chai Foundation (Rabbi Elie Kaufner was part of the innagural class of recipients of The Avi Chai Fellowship in 2008) the Jim Joseph Foundation has now awarded Mechon Hadar a five year $1 million matching grant.
Mechon Hadar has a vision on how to rise to the challenge the Foundation has laid out for them. By reaching out to and engaging those who believe in the organization their goal is to build a community supported by thousands of people, where anyone who has a stake in the world they’re trying to create participates. They have devised a fundraising approach to target donors with gifts as small as $54. up to $3000. This represents not only the realities of the current economy but the knowledge that a diversified fundraising base is needed to build the type of community they envision.
Here’s more information on Mechon Hadar and their various projects.