Moishe House Rocks: Jewish Holidays, Karaoke-style!

[This is the sixth in a nine-part series describing the projects of the 2011-2012 Jewish New Media Innovation Fund Award Recipients.]

When I first learned that the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund was offering up to $500,000 in grant support for its first ever round of funding, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that it was a partnership between the Charles and Lynn Schusterman, Jim Joseph and Righteous Persons foundations, all of which have been incredibly generous partners of Moishe House. The bad news was when I learned the selection process would be completely separate from them.

Lucky for us, we were not alone in our application. When hearing that we had the opportunity to apply for a media grant, the first idea that popped into our head was to figure out a way to engage G-dcast, a resource we have been using in our office for more than a year now.

Not only is the resource great, but so is its founder, Sarah Lefton, who lives in the Bay Area and is also a part of Upstart Bay Area. When brainstorming concepts, it came to light that for most Moishe House residents this is their first experience in leading Jewish rituals such as Shabbat and other holidays. We are thrilled that so many people have jumped into the deep end with their leadership but not sure that we are able to provide all of the resources that will give each resident the confidence to play this role, especially with our fast growth and spread of houses across five continents.

Knowing that we have this need and thinking about the powerful messaging created through G-dcast, it only seemed appropriate to create an application that would utilize this existing format while giving Moishe House residents the knowledge they need to feel comfortable in their roles as Moishe House residents and Jewish leaders.

As you can imagine, we were thrilled to learn that Moishe House was one of only nine recipients to receive funding from the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund, especially knowing that over 300 applications were submitted. Beginning in April, Moishe House will have the opportunity to create three episodes of G-d cast to serve as “how to” guides for doing Shabbat, Havdallah and Sukkot in your home. Not only will Moishe House residents have full access to the episodes, we will actively promote them to NEXT Shabbat hosts, Moishe House participants and anyone else looking to create Jewish life in their homes.

David Cygielman is the co-founder and CEO of Moishe House, which aims to provide meaningful Jewish experiences for young adults around the world by supporting leaders in their 20?s as they create vibrant home-based Jewish communities. Since creating Moishe House in 2006, David has pioneered the growth from one Moishe House to more than 33 Moishe Houses in 13 countries, engaging more than 40,000 participants a year.

Sarah Lefton is the executive director and producer of G-dcast, a non-profit production company dedicated to raising worldwide Jewish literacy using the tools and storytelling style that speak to today’s youth. To date, G-dcast has created 62 short films – all available for free – based on Jewish texts that have been viewed nearly a million times on the web, social media networks and mobile devices.

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