In 2015, WRJ was excited to announce WRJ Incubator Grants, an initiative designed to inspire and enable “outside the box” programs and provide new ideas for all WRJ sisterhoods and Districts. Many of our sisterhoods have projects they would like to pursue and share but do not have the resources to create them. In 2016, WRJ provided Incubator Grants to 10 sisterhoods in order to enable the enacting of programs which create caring communities, promote Reform Jewish values, cultivate spirutal or personal growth, or give more women the opportunity to do tikkun olam, repairing the world. The programs were all very successful, and WRJ hopes to provide Incubator Grants again in the future.
The 2016 Incubator Grants to WRJ sisterhoods to support these unique and replicable programming ideas were awarded to:
- Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation Sisterhood – Reston, VA for “Making Candlesticks with Sharsheret” - This program will connect with Sharsheret, a Jewish organization that supports young women diagnosed with breast cancer, for an educational presentation, followed by the creation of a set of Shabbat candlesticks for fifty young women recently diagnosed with breast cancer to use in their Shabbat celebrations. Participants will stay in touch with the women throughout their treatments.
- Temple Sinai Sisterhood – Houston, TX for “Making Music with Beth Hamon” - Beth Hamon is a Jewish recording artist and educator whose roots are in environmental awareness. During a Tu B’shevat week of learning, Beth will work with the synagogue’s educator and clergy to create a framework for addressing environmental stewardship and sustainability through a Jewish lens, using music, art and worship on multiple, age-appropriate levels.
- Women of SSTTE – Scarsdale, NY for “The Scotland Project” – The Scotland Project is intended to fight Anti-Semitism in Scotland by providing Jewish ritual objects that will be included in educational kits to be used in the thirty-two school areas in Scotland. Scarsdale temple youth will also participate in a pen pal program with Scottish students.
- Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El WRJ/Sisterhood – Plantation, FL for “The Secret Chord” - This program will begin with a Community Read-In of “The Secret Chord”. Following the Read-In, lessons from “The Secret Chord” and David’s life will be infused into synagogue programming, including education, music, and the Rabbi’s sermons from the bimah.
- Beth Chaim Reform Congregation Sisterhood – Malvern, PA for “Long Term Planning for Aging Parents or Relatives” - The goals of this program are to help families accept responsibility for long-term care planning, offer educational platforms to help families plan and navigate the final years of life, and provide a forum and support network for idea sharing on the topic.
- WRJ of Temple Emanu-El – Tucson, AZ for “Gan Project” – WRJ’s grant will permit an expansion of the temple’s already successful Gan Project by adding two more raised-bed gardens and an additional season of replanting and classes for temple youth. The Rabbi Educator and a gardening expert will lead classes connecting Shmita principles to the garden.
- Temple Rodeph Torah of Western Monmouth Sisterhood – Marlboro, NJ for “Sisters Building Bridges” - This program will work to connect the Islamic and Jewish cultures by sharing traditions through cooking. The sisterhood will teach the tradition of Challah baking and the guests will share how to prepare Na’an.
- Sisterhood of Temple Shalom of Newton – West Newton, MA for “Mental Health Initiative” – A panel of mental health professionals will speak about mental illness to the community. The program will then provide follow-up initiatives such as counseling support for participants in Youth Education and Engagement programs, support groups led by mental health professionals, and suicide prevention training.
- Women of Temple Beth Hillel – Valley Village, CA for “The Mitzvah Bus” - This program will transport eighty people to several different types of social action organizations to volunteer in various capacities. At each non-profit, participants will be provided with a list of volunteer opportunities with that organization for their future involvement.
- Sisterhood of Temple Israel – Staten Island, NY for “Sisterhood Cook-Ins” - The sisterhood will expand food preparation services for the local homeless shelter from twice a year (Easter and Christmas) to six times per year, or once every other month.
If you would like more information on how to replicate these programs in your own community please contact WRJ Program Associate Micaela Sheinhait at email@example.com or 212.650.4060.