Sefaria’s Linker: Connecting Jewish Texts & Ideas Across the Internet

Taking Judaism’s sacred texts and building an online living library is a major undertaking. But that’s exactly what Sefaria has done. From Tanakh to Talmud to Zohar to modern texts—and all the volumes of commentary in between—Sefaria’s platform for Jewish learning enables students and scholars around the world to learn, discuss, question, and explore old texts in new ways. Today, more than 300,000 users access Sefaria each month. Many thousands more engage with Sefaria’s resources on third-party websites and apps that use Sefaria’s free data and API to power their projects.

Sefaria’s new two-way Linker is the latest major development for anyone interested in learning and exploring these sacred texts. The Linker automatically connects Torah content across the internet to primary sources in its library, and vice versa.

Websites that use the Linker give their users direct access to any primary sources they cite in Sefaria’s library, allowing curious learners to go deeper in their study. At the same time, the Linker brings the world of contemporary commentary to Sefaria by showing links in Sefaria’s sidebar to external websites that embed the free Linker code. Put simply, users can now explore beyond the confines of the Sefaria library and find relevant content from Jewish thinkers across the internet directly from Sefaria.org.

Example of the Linker connecting an external website to Sefaria’s library 

Example of the Linker connecting a primary source in Sefaria’s library to Torah commentary on a third-party website

 

The Sefaria project has become the digital home of the book for the people of the book. Sefaria is not just creating a vital online resource, but it is opening up our ancient heritage to a new generation on a global scale in a digital age.
—Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

With the launch of this new linker, Sefaria continues to emerge as the nexus of Torah on the internet, connecting more people with more great Jewish content and allowing for new layers of Torah study and conversation to flourish in the process.

The Linker is a free JavaScript plugin for websites that include citations to Torah texts. To learn how to add it to your website, visit Sefaria.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is a funder of Sefaria.

 

Reboot Ideas Festival Open To All

For 18 years, Reboot has gathered some of the best and brightest change-agents for conversations about Jewish identity and meaning.  This combined power of imagination and dialogue helps to turn big issues into transformative ideas. Now, Reboot is opening its doors to the public for the first time to amplify these vital voices and to bring in wider perspectives to inspire more wandering Jews to evolve today’s world. The Reboot Ideas Festival, March 26-29 in San Francisco, will be a deeply personal and communal exploration of the most pressing issues captivating the Jewish world and beyond. Through inspired conversations, curated experiences, live performances, and art-driven showcases, the Reboot Ideas Festival will take a candid look at contemporary challenges – social, spiritual, and psychic – and through art, culture, and imagination will conjure new pathways to address them.

The Ideas Festival reflects Reboot’s role as a unique arts and culture nonprofit reimagining and reinforcing Jewish thought and traditions. It is a premier R&D platform for the Jewish world, with its Rebooter Network of preeminent creators, artists, entrepreneurs, and activists producing experiences and products that advance the Jewish conversation and strive to transform society.

The Reboot Ideas Festival ushers in a new era for Reboot.  With it, Reboot is taking its methodology of asking the biggest Jewish questions of the day, revolving around core thoughts about what we are inheriting and what we want to do about it, and opening it up to a larger audience. During what feels to be a dark time, we are so excited to bring together such an amazing cast of characters to think about the Jewish future and how our traditions and stories can cast a light onto the world. – David Katznelson, CEO of Reboot

All Reboot projects imagine Jewish ritual and tradition afresh, offering an inviting mix of discovery, experience and reflection through events, exhibitions, recordings, books, films, DIY activity toolkits and apps. These projects have engaged over a million participants and continue to inspire Jewish connections and meaning by encouraging participants to become creators in their Jewish experience. The annual Reboot Summit convenes a diverse group of prominent Jewish change agents in an intellectually provocative environment that inspires them to discover new ways to engage with their Judaism.

Register for the Reboot Ideas Festival here.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is a funder of Reboot.

At The Well

At the intersection of women’s wellness and Jewish wisdom, At The Well is engaging a new generation of women craving connection and wholeness. In just four years, At The Well’s worldwide network of Well Circles and resources rooted in this wisdom have empowered young leaders and made Jewish spirituality more personally meaningful for thousands of women today.

At The Well is an authentic, embodied reply to a question our generation has the luxury to ask: What makes Judaism relevant to us? We’ve seen first hand in Sophia’s/my circle how At The Well has transformed women who were disconnected completely from Jewish life into women who look to our traditions for meaning, spirituality and community. At The Well does this work with young Jewish women with inclusivity and integrity.
– Sophia and Benjamin Abram, Well Circle Host and Funders, Durham, North Carolina

The hundreds of Well Circles—monthly gatherings around the new moon and Hebrew month—each include about ten women with a shared mission, shared responsibility and a sacred sense of belonging. By creating space that blends biblical, talmudic, midrashic and modern texts, prayers, and rituals, Well Circles cultivate meaningful experiences and connections for participants. Importantly, every woman has a chance to lead their Well Circle as a confident host, using At The Well’s resources to facilitate discussion and activities about themes in each Hebrew month. This leadership role allows women in each Circle to not only grow more connected to their Jewish spirituality, but also to become stronger as Jewish leaders within their communities.

I met an empowering group of women through my Well Circle who helped me get a better grip on the version of Judaism that I was looking for. I’m now finding myself in countless places with a community of Jewish women and men…I feel confident for the first time talking about my version of Judaism.
– Nina Stepanov, Well Circle Attendee, New York

Beyond Well Circles, At The Well teaches, coaches, and facilitates other transformative Jewish practices for women in their network. They use the Mikvah as a technology for marking transitions. The laws of Niddah are reframed so that diverse women can connect more deeply to their bodies. And last year, more than 1,000 people counted the Omer with At The Well daily text messages and 860 people participated in a forgiveness campaign during the month of Elul.

All of these efforts help women from different backgrounds link Jewish practice to their health, wholeness, and spirituality—and combat the increasing epidemic of loneliness facing young adults today, which, along with depression and anxiety, are twice as prevalent with women than with men. Ultimately, At The Well offers a space to connect to one’s community, body, and spiritual life. Women come together to lift each other up and to build personal foundations for living healthy Jewish lives.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is a supporter of At The Well.

Moving Traditions Builds On Impact With New Offerings

Challenges facing youth are greater than ever—and anxiety rates are spiking. From growing pressure on academic achievement, to the 24/7 cycle of social media, to the rise of hate speech and violence rooted in anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism, youth need help. For 15 years, Moving Traditions has engaged parents, communal leaders, clergy, educators, and concerned adults to help Jewish pre-teens and teens to navigate this terrain and to flourish. Now, having just implemented a five-year strategic plan, the organization is poised to influence even more Jewish youth and families at this critical time.

It’s two flagship teen programs—Rosh Hodesh for girls, and Shevet for boys—have impacted thousands of teens who say overwhelmingly that because of these programs they are better able to handle stress and tackle problems; they have stronger Jewish identities; they are more aware of gender stereotypes and inequality, and they are inspired to speak up for social change. Last year, drawing from those key learnings and in partnership with Keshet, Moving Traditions launched Tzelem, geared specifically to support transgender, nonbinary, gender fluid, or gender questioning teens in the same areas as Rosh Hodesh and Shevet does for others. Tzelem groups, led by a trans or non-binary group leader, bring together teens from all over the country once a month via video conference to focus on topics like courage, friendship, stress, body image, and spirituality.

Along with these programs for teens, Moving Traditions has introduced a new model of family education through its B’nai Mitzvah program, which works with clergy and Jewish educators to help families navigate this life stage by addressing the joys and challenges of becoming and parenting a teen. The programs fosters dialogue between parents and pre-teens, and addresses the social-emotional needs of 6th and 7th graders in our society.

We discussed the 4 guidelines for disagreements at dinner tonight! We seldom actually follow up like this. It really helped keep us calmer and more focused. We even have a plan for resolving the conflict. No yelling so no post-disagreement guilt, and I know we were trying to solve the problem rather than win the argument. I hope we can keep this up.
—Parent participant

In all of this work, Moving Traditions looks to help pre-teens and teens navigate these challenges so that they will thrive and find meaning in Jewish life. Partnerships with synagogues, JCCs, camps, and other innovative and emergent communities are integral in this approach and to proactively addressing urgent issues. The organization’s new CultureShift initiative, for example, prepares senior camp leaders to train counselors to prevent sexual harassment and assault and to promote a culture of safety, equity and respect at camp. As one camp leader succinctly put it: “Communicating boundaries is part of our job.” As another example, Kol Koleinu is a national feminist fellowship for teen activists, in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism, that inspires 10th-12th grade participants to deepen their feminist knowledge, amplify their voices, exert leadership and reshape the world.

Moving Traditions’ reach and impact will grow in the coming years, building on successes from its early programs while also supporting teens and families in new ways. Through these efforts, Jewish wisdom will be integrated into learning experiences to help Jewish youth grapple with questions of gender and identity, to learn to relate to others with compassion and respect, and to develop a moral compass.

For a taste of Moving Traditions’ programming, visit and enjoy their six-episode NPR-style podcast, @13, with rabbis, authors, comedians, psychologists, parents, and teens speaking about the ancient roots and modern realities of this Jewish rite of passage.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is a funder of Moving Traditions.

 

 

 

Onward Israel

Each summer, thousands of North American college-age students experience daily life in Israel—and what it takes to succeed there professionally—through Onward Israel’s two-month professional internship in Israel. More than 12,000 young adults have participated in Onward since 2012, attracted in part to the program’s accessible length and affordable price, making it one of the fastest-growing and impactful programs in the Jewish world.

My summer on Hillel Onward Israel Jerusalem was without a doubt one of the most incredible summers of my life…It was really amazing to have gone on a program that gives its participants the freedom to explore Israel as they wish. I interned at the Hebrew University Givat Ram in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Department…Even today I am still in touch with the professor I worked with, as we are continuing our work together over email. Onward Israel Jerusalem intensified my passion for the land of Israel, gave me valuable research experience to take back to Cornell, and allowed me to personally connect with the land I consider to be my home.
– Emily, Hillel Onward Israel Jerusalem, summer 2017

Israel’s vibrant economy, thriving technology and innovation sectors, and multi-cultural landscape make it an ideal place for college-age students looking to have a resume-enhancing experience that builds life-skills and can help them when they enter the workforce. Because they are immersed in the Israeli workplace and society—they are placed in housing and have opportunities to tour the country—participants return home with greater knowledge, sense of connection, and engagement in Jewish life and Israel. Evaluations of participants before and after the program show that they increase their knowledge about diversity and variety in Israeli life, society, and politics; their sense of responsibility and connection to Israelis and the Jewish people; the ability to explain to others why being Jewish and engaging with Israel are important; and knowledge of Judaism, Jewish communities, and the diversity of approaches to Judaism.

So far, I have come to the conclusion that Israel is everything Alaska is not! Unlike in my hometown, here, in Jerusalem I am bombarded with the sound of traffic the minute I walk out my front door. The food, the sights, the music, and especially the environment are very different from anything I grew up with. Being in Jerusalem and working in the museum has given me a stronger understanding of the history of Israel, which means a greater appreciation of the ground I stand on today. I am here in Jerusalem basking in all the glory of my people’s hard work and could not feel more fortunate and more welcomed.
– Aidan, Onward Israel Arts and Culture, summer 2018

Importantly, research shows that these changes in participants continue for years after they return home. Other key findings from Onward Israel’s numerous evaluations, conducted by Rosov Consulting, show that:

  • Internships and the framework for personal growth attracts young people with the potential to deepen their connection to Jewish life. More than 75% of participants have spent less than three months in Israel prior to the program. More than 90% of participants define themselves as Conservative, Reform, or Just Jewish.
  • Participants are overwhelmingly satisfied with their internship and 90% of employers recommend to their peers to absorb interns.
  • Alumni make plans to return to Israel and become more involved with Jewish and Israel activities back on their college campuses (Onward Israel is particularly attractive for Birthright Israel alumni who want to return to Israel).
  • Onward Israel’s partnership model with Israeli businesses and organizations gives participants a customized experience and enables partners to achieve their own objectives.

I think Onward gave me a push to bring people together and explain more about Israel in a way where I could use my knowledge. I was a lot more informed. Maybe before, I could have also done it, but it gave me more confidence.
– Onward alumnus

Engaging in day-to-day life in Israel with all of its complexities and challenges gives participants an appreciation of the country and realistic and sophisticated understanding of both Israel and Jewish life. Building on this proven model, Onward is poised to engage even more young adults. It aspires to reach 5,000 annual participants by 2023 and to help bring half of all young adults who experience Israel before college or through Birthright Israel back to Israel for a second, more intensive experience. These participants, like their predecessors, will return home more connected, engaged, and inspired to become involved in Jewish life and Israel experience on campus and within their Jewish communities.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is a supporter of Onward Israel. To learn more about Onward Israel please visit www.onwardisrael.org.

Hadar

In the midst of its second decade, Hadar offers a powerful, immersive Jewish text learning environment that empowers Jews to create vibrant, egalitarian communities of Torah, Avodah, and Hesed. In the last few years, in an increasingly socially fragmented world, Hadar has experienced unprecedented growth and demand for its programs. People are thirsty for Jewish content that authentically guides and inspires. In turn, Hadar learners want to share their meaningful experiences with others by creating community.

Hadar is a place where the Torah is sharp and the people are sweet, and being here has been an incredibly important and transformative experience for me. It’s one of the only places where I feel I can be honest about who I am and what I believe in and care about. I feel grateful to live in a world in which this beit midrash and this community exists.
– Alum of Hadar Fellowship

As Hadar implements an ambitious strategic plan–its annual budget now tops $6 million–new initiatives and programs continue to engage people with varying levels of knowledge, passions, and visions for future Jewish life. Hadar’s Rising Song Jewish Music Residency, a year-long immersive study program for students of Jewish music and spiritual tradition, trains musical change agents to cultivate Jewish spiritual life across the full, pluralistic range of Jewish expression. Its Moot Beit Din programs offers a unique mock-trial experience for halakhic debate in high schools and colleges. The Pedagogy of Partnership, powered by Hadar, focuses on relationship-centered education, training teachers to modify and advance their teaching practices. And the Advanced Kollel is for students with an extensive learning background committed to a multi-year intensive course of study.

More people than ever are engaging in these programs—there are over 600 alumni of Hadar’s summer and year-long fellowship programs, and 2,000 alumni of its dozen week-long programs. Hadar’s online podcasts, classes, and music offerings are downloaded by more than two million people annually. Hadar has also expanded regular programming outside New York in cities such as Washington, DCBostonPhiladelphia and Jerusalem.

Hadar made me see the possibility of living a Jewish life that does not compromise my identity or my values.
– Participant in Hadar program

Hadar’s timely resources include a new High Holiday “reader,” a printable, designed, free collection of seasonal essays from their faculty. Hadar’s Israel operation is busy with its Elul program for university-age Israelis studying in an immersive all-Hebrew beit midrash setting that embodies Hadar’s vision of Jewish learning and an embrace of gender equality. And registration is open for Hadar’s second-ever National ShabbatonJanuary 31, 2020, for a weekend of learning, community-building, prayer, and music. 

Deeply rooted in our texts and traditions, Hadar’s learning experiences are a creative response to contemporary questions and challenges. As Jews re-evaluate questions of identity and affiliation, Hadar is well-positioned to meet their needs and to impact diverse audiences through its vision of Torah that is uncompromisingly honest, spiritually meaningful, and socially responsible.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is a funder of Hadar. Access Hadar’s High Holiday reader here.

 

Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies

With a pioneering model of teaching and programming, the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies engages students and faculty in a rich environment of learning, research, and unique public events. In just eight years, the Institute has transitioned from a start-up to a permanent presence that cultivates young Jewish leadership and continues to change the landscape of Israel studies on campus and in the larger community.

The Institute offers numerous paths for meaningful student and faculty engagement, including opportunities for research, teaching, programming, and mentorship.  The Institute brings visiting faculty and scholars to campus and organizes classes, lectures, colloquia, and conferences to strengthen academic inquiry and discourse around Israel and Jewish topics. 

Visiting Israeli faculty and scholars offer courses and mentorship in diverse fields of interest, including Geography, Political Science, Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, Jewish Studies, Law, and Economics. The Institute’s Undergraduate Fellows Program fosters a growing cohort of student leaders that in turn create programs and courses for their peers. This cohort will now be able to take advantage of the Institute’s developing  experiential learning program in Israel, which will include on-site coursework and internships with a focus on social change.

It’s great to have such constant offerings from the Institute. These events have piqued my interest in Jewish and Israel topics and I find that I seek out other opportunities to learn more, outside of campus. I’ve always been interested in the news even before being part of the Institute, but now there is a good chance I’ll stay actively involved in keeping up with academic literature that deals with Israel and international relations.
– UC Berkeley Student

In recent years, the Institute hosted the annual meeting of the Association for Israel Studies, brought Israeli Supreme Court Justice Daphne Barak-Erez as The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Scholar-in-Residence, sponsored courses ranging from Israeli Constitutional Law to Religion in Israel, and hosted up to five stellar visiting professors per year to teach and mentor in their areas of expertise.

Staff are amazing at being resources for us even outside of the class and lectures. . . If there is something I want to do that is Israel- or Jewish-related, they’ll go out of their way. The Institute feels like family. At this point, they’ve been instrumental in shaping my college experience.
– UC Berkeley Student

In the 2019-2020 academic year, the Institute will expand and diversify undergraduate courses, student programs, academic programs, and especially experiential learning opportunities. This also is the first year in which Professor Ron Hassner, the Institute’s faculty co-director, will serve as the new Helen Diller Family Chair in Israel Studies.

The Berkeley Institute made academic study of Judaism and Israel a legitimate field of study and discourse on the Berkeley campus. It put Jewish studies and Israel studies back on the map. In the last 3 years alone the Institute has exposed to us for the first time Israel’s water policies, Israel’s high tech, Israel’s supreme court, Israel’s philosophy. These were things you could talk about and research.
– Faculty Member

The Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies receives support from the Jim Joseph Foundation. Learn more about the Institute.

 

 

Keshet

Working for the full equality and inclusion of LGBTQ Jewish youth and families in all parts of the Jewish community, Keshet engages and educates leaders and creates environments where people can be their whole selves.

Keshet offers teens and Jewish youth professionals ongoing and immersive training to shift the culture of Jewish institutions to greater inclusivity – grounding the work of LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish text and values. At Keshet’s Shabbat retreats—Shabbatonim—LGBTQ and ally Jewish teens can exhale and find their place and voice as emerging Jewish leaders. They build meaningful friendships, engage in deep Jewish learning, and return home inspired to make the world a better place.

Keshet didn’t just make me feel wanted or like I could exist. Keshet made me feel like I could be a leader.
– Jake Cohen, 16, California

Last year, Keshet expanded the Shabbatonim to include the South and Midwest, in addition to those held in the East and West Coasts, so more queer Jewish teens have the space to be their full selves. All of this is in addition to Keshet’s year-round work engaging queer Jewish teens through programs, conferences, and workshops, and through training more than 1,500 youth professional who work with teens.

The Shabbaton has been the place where I can most be me—fully, unapologetically, truly, wholly me.
– Alexandra Kohl, 21, New York

Beyond youth engagement, through Keshet’s Leadership Project (LP)—a year-long program that gathers, trains, and supports leaders of Jewish institutions to become more inclusive of LGBTQ individuals and families—Jewish leaders gain the tools to embrace LGBTQ Jews from all walks of life. Keshet engages rabbis, educators, and other leaders in synagogues, Jewish day schools, JCCs, youth movements, summer camps, and other community institutors across the country, pushing them to take brave, bold steps to make their institutions inclusive. Keshet’s nine active LP cohorts, comprised of 103 institutions that collectively serve 843,021 people, help ensure that LGBTQ Jews are fully seen, respected, and affirmed.

Keshet was a game-changer for our camp! We now have a crystal clear understanding of LGBTQ terminology and the confidence to use it. Our counselors are much more intentional about the language they use to express the gender diversity among our campers. Thanks to Keshet, our campers and their families know that they will be fully embraced for who they are.
– Sheryl Kirschenbaum, Director of Surprise Lake Camp, New York

Keshet’s vision is to build on these successes as it expands its efforts toward the full equality of all LGBTQ Jews and families in Jewish life. By building relationships with Jewish leaders and institutions, and by creating opportunities for youth to grow and lead, Keshet fosters a Jewish community rooted in inclusion and human dignity—that ultimately shapes a better world for all.

The Jim Joseph Foundation is one of many funders of Keshet. Learn more here.

 

Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Building on its record as a leading center of Jewish thought and education, the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America has ambitious plans to build a vibrant Jewish community. Moving forward, the Institute is poised to grow and expand, with a vision to:

• Make Judaism compelling in the open marketplace of ideas.
• Commit our community to pluralism despite divisive partisan politics.
• Partner with Israelis to build an exemplary Jewish state.
• Foster partnerships between Jewish leaders and leaders of other communities.
• Nurture connections between American Jews and Israel.

Throughout 2019 and beyond, Hartman is expanding its reach and ability to effect change. New offices allow it to have impact in communities across the country. The Institute has more leaders, and more diverse leaders, in place than ever before, ready to build meaningful relationships with rabbis, educators, and leaders of other faiths. More research will be conducted by the Institute’s Kogod Research Center and David Hartman Center, with more research opportunities for scholars of today–and tomorrow. New program initiatives will be unveiled and expanded addressing some of the most pressing issues in Jewish life today–from Jewish values and American democracy, to Israel education, to how Judaism is taught at different points in life, to gender and equality, and more.

Learn more about the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America’s plans for expansion.

 

 

Counting Inconsistencies from Jews of Color Field Building Initiative

Jews of Color in the U.S. are a growing population but have been systematically undercounted in decades of American Jewish population studies, claims a new report by the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, The Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco. Researchers of the report, Counting Inconsistencies: An Analysis of American Jewish Population Studies, with a Focus on Jews of Color, drew this conclusion after examining data from 25 national or local population studies, and the survey strategies deployed to collect it.

Given inconsistencies in how population studies have been conducted, researchers can, at best, make only an educated guess about the population of Jews of Color in the United States.

  • Based on the three most comprehensive data sets available (the 2013–2019 American Jewish Population Project, the 2011 New York Community Study, and the 2017 San Francisco Bay Area Community Study) researchers estimate that Jews of Color represent at least 12-15% of American Jews, or about 1,000,000 of the United States’ 7,200,000 Jews.
  • More younger people identify as nonwhite than older people do. With cohort replacement, this means that the future of American Jewry is racially diverse.
  • Even with data that undercounts Jews of Color, as younger, more racially and ethnically diverse cohorts replace older, more homogeneous ones, our understanding of the basic racial and ethnic makeup of the American Jewish community will change.

Everyone in the Jewish community, but especially the community’s leaders and organizers, must understand the full and diverse picture of the American Jewish population today. Our community is changing and evolving in many ways, including its racial composition. This change should have a deep influence in how we think about resource allocation, programming, outreach efforts and more. – Ilana Kaufman,  Director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative.

Counting Inconsistencies notes that at a minimum, more than 20 percent of “Jewish households” include people who identify as nonwhite. If the population trends along the same lines as the U.S. Census, then some decades from now Jews of Color will become the majority of U.S. Jews. Yet, American Jewish Population Surveys have largely neglected to systematically and consistently ask about the racial and ethnic identities of U.S. Jews, resulting in a dearth of information about the composition and size of the population of Jews of Color. By extension, Jews of Color have been omitted from Jewish communal life, due in part to the socially constructed notion that the vast majority of American Jews identify as “white.”

There simply is no guiding principle that researchers used in these population studies with respect to accurately asking about and subsequently counting Jews of Color. As more American Jews identify as non-white, the survey inconsistencies and lack of clarity in this area becomes a more critical problem that needs to be appropriately addressed. – Dr. Ari Kelman of Stanford University and the lead researcher of Counting Inconsistencies.

Some previous Jewish population surveys did not ask about race or ethnicity at all. Other survey designs sampled respondents in ways that likely result in undercounting Jews of Color, including sampling “distinctive Jewish names,” relying heavily on Jewish community lists, and/or only including “Jews by religion.” And some survey questions inconsistently inquired about race and ethnicity. Sometimes, both questions and responses confuse family origin, racial, ethnic, national, and even denominational identities.

Even with past survey issues, we have a picture now of what the American Jewish community will look like over the next several decades. The simple fact is we will be more diverse than ever. How are we going to welcome in and engage people from different backgrounds, interests, and experiences? Those are the big questions facing our community. – Ilana Kaufman

Counting Inconsistencies includes a set of recommendations for future research to follow to ensure more accurate counting of Jews of Color, including using more racially inclusive, sensitive sampling strategies and frames that do not rely significantly on self-identified “Jews by Religion,” “Distinctive Jewish Names,” and/or community organization affiliations; partnering with other regions or organizations to, as teams, develop language for racial identity questions; and developing consistency across survey question language reflecting best practices and how Jews of Color identify rather than how researchers identify Jews of Color; among other recommendations.

Kaufman shared the findings in Washington, DC at the Religious Action Center 2019 Consultation on Conscience, and at the UJA-Federation of New York. She will share them June 6 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and June 26 via a webinar with Dr. Ari Kelman.

Along with Dr. Kelman, researchers included Dr. Aaron Hahn Tapper, University of San Francisco; Ms. Izabel Fonseca, Stanford University; and Dr. Aliya Saperstein, Stanford University.

This research is the result of a partnership between The Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, The Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco. The Jews of Color Field Building Initiative is funded by the Leichtag Foundation, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the Jim Joseph Foundation, the One8 Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. The study was supported by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Counting Inconsistencies is a meta-study that examined 15 local and community studies (Los Angeles 1997, Seattle 2000, Phoenix 2002, Atlanta 2006, Denver Boulder 2007, Philadelphia 2009, Chicago 2010, Cleveland 2011, New York 2011, Miami 2014, Boston 2015, Pittsburgh 2017, SF Bay Area 2017, and Washington DC 2017); seven national population studies (National Jewish Population Study (NJPS) 1970, NJPS 1990, National Survey of Religious Identity 1990, NJPS 2000, Heritage and Religious Identification 2002, Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews 2013, and the American Jewish Population Project), and four population specific studies (Generation Now, Generation Next, Jewish Futures Project, and Hillel International Research on College Students.)

JPRO19: What Connects Us

For individuals working in Jewish organizations in the U.S. and Canada, JPRO is the leading professional association working to ensure that the field attracts, develops, and retains the talent needed to thrive. JPRO Network maximizes the potential of the 80,000 professionals who are a part of this field, nurturing, sustaining, and developing them so that Jewish engagement and education efforts fieldwide are elevated. Every Jewish communal enterprise depends on highly motivated, well-trained professionals who feel valued and are positioned to do excellent work.

The JPRO WellAdvised program is an amazing opportunity to connect with a person who is thoughtful and dedicated to work in our field with a perspective different than that of the people with whom we directly work. The hour can jump-start a new idea or reinvigorate the energy dedicated to an existing endeavor.
– JPRO WellAdvised participant

This August, JPRO19: What Connects Us—the seminal conference for hundreds of Jewish communal professionals—will be a catalyst to connect and to reimagine what thriving Jewish institutions will look like, who will lead them, and what impact they will collectively have on the world in the 21st Century. Along with networking and learning opportunities, skill-building workshops and master classes, and immersive experiences throughout Detroit, JPRO19 will feature four themes of great relevance and interest to professionals in the field: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Building Resilient Communities; Designing Workplaces for the Future; and Civil Discourse in Complex Times.

The session was incredibly insightful. It will help me change the way I manage both myself and my team; and thereby will help increase our effectiveness and impact. It was wonderful to be in a room with colleagues from across the Jewish organizational world. And the facilitator was herself so amazing; on top of the content she modeled some excellent facilitation techniques.
– Participant in JPRO Management course in New York

In the spirit of a network that shares knowledge, the conference’s Steal This Stage* (supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation and UpStart) will highlight some of the biggest ideas and boldest work coming from Jewish institutions and communities across North America. Each presenter will have up to 5 minutes to present their “big idea.” At the conclusion of the conference, all JPRO19 attendees will get access to the ideas so they can be “stolen” and implemented within their organizations or community. Do you have a big idea or innovation that you want to share with your colleagues? Tell JPRO about it here by May 17—you might be selected to share it on the Steal This Stage during JPRO19 in Detroit.  

Building on the network’s 120-year history, JPRO19 is indicative of its continued growth. Over the last 18 months, JPRO expanded programming and strengthened its organization. New programs such as WellAdvised and JPRO Master Classes exceeded projections and generated enthusiastic feedback. The number of JPRO affiliated organizations—those who have joined the network and thereby extended membership to their employees—has nearly tripled, from 95 to more than 250, and JPRO has surpassed 5,000 affiliated staff members. The future of Jewish communities relies on vibrant institutions — and on the talented, dedicated professionals who build and sustain them. JPRO is a key part of this support system, advancing connection across communities, organization sizes and types, professional roles, generations, and the diverse identities and backgrounds of professionals, strengthening the connective tissue of the sector as a whole.

* The Steal This concept was “stolen” from 100Kin10, a network preparing 100,000 excellent science, tech, engineering, and math teachers in the US by 2021 and addressing the underlying reasons for the STEM teacher shortage.

The William Davidson Foundation is supporting this year’s conference. JPRO is partnering with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit to bring JPRO19 to Detroit. The Jim Joseph Foundation, the Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation, and many others are also supporting JPRO19.

 

 

 

 

Makom 4HQ Moishe House Cohort

Through a year-long learning training program from Makom, Moishe House residents and Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW) hosts are bringing engaging Israel programing to their peers. Makom’s 4HQ program takes the penultimate line of Hatikvah—To Be | A People | Free | In Our Land—and adapts it to four question areas that address the ongoing creative tension between 1) security, 2) Jewish Peoplehood, 3) democracy, and 4) the Land of Israel. The result is that a topic, Israel, that once was avoided for programming at Moishe Houses, is now discussed, debated, and appreciated in its full complexity.

It feels like this whole approach to digging deeper into Israel programming, and having the hard conversations, could be applied to all our Moishe House programming.
– 
Member of 4HQ Cohort 1

The 4HQ cohort of residents and hosts engage in webinars, in-person gatherings, 1-on-1 mentoring sessions to dive deeper into what they’re learning, and one weeklong trip through Israel. All of these platforms are vehicles to explore the social, historical, and political landscape of Israel from a multitude of perspectives. The trip to Israel, for example, showcases the beauty of Israel, gives space to grapple with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, offers meetings with Palestinians and Jews living over the green line, enables discussions with ultra-Orthodox Jews, provides experiences in cutting-edge civil discourse initiatives, and more. This reflects Makom’s goal not just to teach Moishe House leaders how to engage others with Israel, but to teach these leaders Israel content as well. In the second cohort, scheduled to begin this summer, Makom will roll out a unique Israel 101 Quiz intended to help participants set learning goals, while learning more about the history and culture of Israel.

As the training progresses, cohort participants gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to create and facilitate meaningful, practical, real-life Moishe House programs about Israel with their peers—for which they receive microgrants from Makom.

A spoken-word performance, reflecting on the experience of engaging with Israel

Around the country, Moishe Houses and young adults are finding that Israel programming can inspire deep engagement, excitement, and interest. When approached through the 4HQ framework, young adults of various backgrounds and perspectives come together, respect each other, and dive into Israel. Based on the success of the first 4HQ Moishe House cohort, Moishe House and Makom have begun reviewing more applications for cohort 2. More program and application details are available here.

Take part in “The Makom Parallel Israeli Election” and access resources about the Israeli election at www.makomisrael.org. The parallel election is meant to engage Jews around the world in the Israeli election, encouraging them to learn about the salient issues in Israel today, and ultimately to strengthen the conversation between Jews around the world and Israelis.  

 Makom’s 4HQ training program for Moishe House received one of ten grants in educator training from the Jim Joseph Foundation, following an open RFP.