Recipients of ‘Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs’ Announced

grantsGrantee initiatives include: Jewish infertility education; support for orthodox LGBT youth; a Yiddish web series; Israeli religious pluralism and Polish Jewish life

JERUSALEM, Jan. 26 – What do Jewish infertility, religious LGBT youth, a Yiddish web comedy, Israeli religious pluralism and progressive Polish Jewry have in common? They have all been identified as new ways to inspire people to get more involved in Jewish life.

The Natan Fund, a giving circle based in New York City supporting Jewish and Israeli social innovation, announced this week the recipients of its fourth annual round of ‘Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs.’ This $40,000 grant pool is a partnership of Natan and ROI community in which the Natan Fund offers grants to members of ROI Community, an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, who have developed cutting-edge projects to deepen global Jewish engagement.

The 2016 Natan Grants for ROI Entrepreneurs include:

  • BEIT KRAKÓW (Poland): Beit Kraków is a progressive Jewish community that seeks to revitalize Jewish life in Krakow, Poland. Its model is rooted in creating meaningful, educational and cultural Jewish programming that fosters creativity and long-term involvement in the Jewish community, with an emphasis on arts and culture programs. Natan’s grant will support Beit Kraków’s effort to secure a theater building to reestablish a Jewish cultural hub in Krakow.
  • ISRAEL HOFSHEET (Israel): Israel Hofsheet works to promote religious freedom and Jewish pluralism in Israel. By educating the Israeli public about a pluralistic understanding of Judaism, the organization seeks to strengthen Israeli democracy and pave the way for Israelis to make informed, educated Jewish choices. Natan’s grant will support the Havaya Jewish Wedding Workshop, which teaches engaged Israeli couples who cannot or choose not to be married by the Israeli Rabbinate about the basic principles of a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony.
  • JEWISH QUEER YOUTH (US): Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) supports LGBT Orthodox Jewish teenagers and their families. Devised and facilitated by licensed mental health professionals who have experience working with the Orthodox community, JQY offers support through a range of initiatives including online, phone and in-person crisis and group programming that is culturally sensitive and tailored to Orthodox, Hasidic, and Sephardic Jewish populations. Natan’s grant will support the expansion of JQY’s teen programming to connect their teens and offer additional support services.
  • UPROOTED (US): Uprooted seeks to create an inclusive Jewish community that embraces and supports men and women struggling with fertility. Through educational workshops, support groups, mentoring and the creation of resources and national convenings, Uprooted is quickly establishing itself as a national voice, both providing direct programing and promoting others doing important work in this nascent field. Natan’s grant will help Uprooted create a mentorship program that connects people experiencing fertility issues to one another, and provide Jewish perspectives and resources on infertility through a blog and other channels.
  • YIDLIFE CRISIS (US/Canada): YidLife Crisis is a Yiddish comedy web series and evolving cultural brand created by Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion. YidLife Crisis seeks to engage diverse and unaffiliated Jews through online content in what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century context and to introduce elements of Yiddish/Yiddishkayt (Jewishness) to Jews and non-Jews globally through the power of the internet.

The Natan Fund and ROI Community share a goal of forging new access points to Jewish life, especially for younger Jews who are less engaged with the established community. ROI Community entrepreneurs fulfill this mission by redefining Jewish engagement worldwide. Their initiatives are a perfect fit for Natan Fund’s mission of providing early-stage funding to develop creative strategies that address central challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel.