Natan Fund Renews and Expands Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs

The Natan Fund and ROI Community announced the recipients of the second round of “Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs,” a grantmaking partnership generously funded by the Natan Fund to support ROI Community members’ innovative ideas for diversifying Jewish life in communities around the world.

The Natan Fund, a giving circle for young professionals, will be allocating $40,000 in grants that will be distributed to seven ROI Community members from the United States, Mexico, India and Israel. Recipients will use the funds to spearhead projects that invite young Jews, as well as the broader community, to explore and experience diverse, creative ways of bringing Judaism and Jewish culture into their lives.

Following a successful first round of dedicated funding for ROI entrepreneurs in 2012, the Natan Fund decided to continue the program and increase its funding due to the high caliber and impact of the projects.

The partnership between Natan and ROI Community, a program of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network, was created to bring together Natan Fund’s young philanthropists with ROI members’ cutting-edge projects for global Jewish engagement, thereby facilitating a deeper impact on the Jewish world.

The recipients of the 2014 “Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs” are:

Ana Fuchs (United States): Ana is the founding executive director of Jewish Kids Group (JKG), a new independent Hebrew school in Atlanta that offers summer-camp style, content-rich, meaningful Jewish supplemental education for children from unaffiliated or interfaith families. The grant will fund the work of a part-time “Experience Imagineer” who will launch new programming, expand outreach and partnerships with the larger community and work with teachers and volunteers to bring Jewish education to a higher, more engaged level.

Matti Kovler (United States): Matti, artistic director of the Boston Jewish Music Theater, will be producing an event featuring the rock-opera ‘OR’ (Light) based on the story of the scandalous 17th century Jewish Messiah Shabtay Tzvi that will be followed by an open conversation with its artists. The goal of the gathering is to engage young Jews from the Greater Boston community who are interested in fresh, quality artistic events connected to Judaism.

Renato Huarte Cuéllar (Mexico): After two successful Limud México events held in Mexico City, Renato will use his grant to produce year-round Limud activities with the goal of creating an even more significant impact on one of Latin America’s largest Jewish communities.

Sigalith Isaac Kurulkar (India): Sigalith is using her grant to help launch Limmud India 2014, a festive day of Jewish living and learning that will bring together Jewish scholars, experts and leading personalities from across India and the world. Sigalith plans to use Limmud India as a vehicle to invigorate the Jewish Indian community and cultivate a new young leadership core for the community.

Tomer Dror (Israel): Tomer is the CEO and co-founder of “A Wall in its Midst” (Beliba Choma), a bridge-building project between the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) and non-Haredi population in Israel. The grant will help further this project, assisting Haredim who have chosen to pursue an academic education by arranging weekly one-on-one tutorials with non-Haredi counterparts. The goal is to both help Haredim adjust and thrive in the academic world and provide a rare opportunity to bring together students from vastly different backgrounds in hopes of helping reduce the gaps and tensions in Israeli society.

Secret Artist (Israel): Secret Artist will curate one of the exhibitions in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art. The Jerusalem Biennale, which launched successfully in 2013, showcased artistic works relating in various ways to Judaism and Jewish/Israeli identity, with the goal of reviving conversations about the relationship between art and Judaism.The Jerusalem Biennale will include a range of artistic installations and exhibits to be presented in diverse venues throughout the city.

Robert Saferstein (United States): Robert will be expanding “Friday Night Lights”, a series of sophisticated Shabbat and holiday dinners appealing to gay, professional Jews. The evenings are a salon-style, fine dining version of the traditional Shabbat and holiday dinner, nurturing a refined atmosphere where like-minded gay Jewish professionals can meet, dine and exchange ideas. “Friday Night Lights” engages gay Jewish men in Jewish community life by broadening the definition of what “Jewish” can look like.

The work of these ROI activists and entrepreneurs dovetails with the Natan Fund’s mission to provide early-stage funding for creative approaches that try to answer some of the most central challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel. Among Natan’s goals is to forge new access points to Jewish life, especially for younger Jews who are less engaged with existing communal organizations.

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