New York, NY – Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), through its YES Fund (Youth, Education, & Special Projects), has awarded $300,500 in grants to 22 programs that will strengthen Jewish life and provide the necessary support for religious, social, and educational growth in North America, Israel, and worldwide.
These grants help nurture Jewish engagement by supporting youth and family programs and post-college Jewish advocacy fellowships. Other grants provide rabbinical, cantorial, and other Jewish professional programs in North America and around the world. Grantees in Israel include organizations that foster pluralistic Jewish spaces, including the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Women of the Wall. Other funding supports the Reform Movement's efforts to create an equitable workplace for all and programs that uplift Jews from all backgrounds.
WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla J. Feldman explains, "Over the course of 110 years, WRJ has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Reform Jewish institutions, organizations, and programs that support youth, education, advocacy, and special initiatives. Along with the recent expansion of grants to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, WRJ strengthens the broad and diverse Jewish community of today and empowers the leaders of tomorrow.”
“It is not easy to promote liberal Jewish values in Israel today, especially not gender equality and shared existence programs. Yet this is our clear mission, and your support and belief in us fills us with hope and gives us all the strength to continue changing Israeli society for a more liberal and just society,” said Rabbi Ofek Meir, managing director and headmaster of Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa about the YES Fund grant support they receive.
The 2023-2024 WRJ YES Fund grants were awarded to the following organizations and programs:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Grants
• NEW GRANTEE: Be'chol Lashon Video Production, $10,000
Be’chol Lashon will create new videos about Sigd, an ancient Ethiopian Jewish holiday. The videos will supplement written materials created by the organization and feature Ethiopian women to ensure their experiences informing theology, ritual, culture, and history are prominent.
• NEW GRANTEE: jGirls+ Magazine Jews of Color Mentorship Program, $7,500
jGirls+ Magazine will formalize a mentorship program and support system for teen editors and photographers, as well as alumnae who identify as Jews of Color.
• Jewtina y Co. Fellowship PUENTES Retreat, $5,000
The PUENTES Leadership and Resiliency Fellowship Retreat is a culminating retreat for fellows following a four-month online program addressing gender inequality within the Latin-Jewish community. Participants will complete projects related to the program and share their findings at a culminating retreat for PUENTES Fellows and Jewtina y Co. leaders.
• NEW PROGRAM! The LUNAR Collective Asian-Jewish Shabbat Series, $5,000
WRJ’s YES Fund provides funding to ensure the LUNAR Collective’s future success with its Jewish Learning Series, specifically the Asian-Jewish Shabbat series, where conversations focus on Jewish ritual, tradition, and identity.
• NEW PROGRAM! Rekindle Community Expansion, $5,000
This grant will support Rekindle’s expansion into two communities, thus creating two new cohorts. Each community cohort brings together mid-career leaders from Jewish and African American communities for facilitated conversations to break down barriers and build relationships. Participants emerge from their cohorts with skills to further interracial dialogue. Experience has shown that Rekindle alumni maintain their ties to one another and use their skills for the betterment of their communities.
• NEW PROGRAM! Tkiya Sephardic and Mizrahi Curriculum, $5,000
Tkiya will develop a music curriculum that adds Sephardic/Mizrahi content to the “Ashkenormativity,” which dominates many Jewish experiences. The music curriculum helps families connect more deeply to their heritage and to one another.
• NEW GRANTEE: ish Queer Torah study, $2,500
ish will facilitate a nine-month Queer Torah Fellowship, which will provide stipends for peer leaders and create teaching materials for fellows. The Queer Torah Fellowship is designed for Queer-identifying Jewish young adults ages 21 through 45 and will include an all-night camping/study Shavuot celebration culminating with Pride Shabbat in June 2024.
• Leo Baeck Education Center’s Arab-Jewish Summer Camp, $15,000
WRJ’s continued support will fund field trips and camp activities for 50 Arab and 50 Jewish Israeli children. The program breaks down stereotypes and builds trust so campers and their families are less susceptible to extremist rhetoric.
• URJ NFTY Teen Leadership, $10,000
Through community organizing, URJ is restructuring NFTY to focus its efforts on teen empowerment. The new structure asks each teen to draw in other teens, enjoying a cascading effect that will impact all NFTY activities. NFTY will achieve this new model by providing funds for social justice organizing, synagogue outreach, and trained part-time regional mentors.
• URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, $10,000
The academy will provide scholarships to girls and female-identifying campers who will thrive in Sci-Tech’s supportive and stimulating environment for neurodivergent campers.
• URJ NFTY Kol Koleinu Teen Feminism Fellowship, $8,000
Run by Moving Traditions and NFTY, the grant will support retreat facilitators and help provide program oversight. This leadership and activism initiative provides advocacy training to high school students who identify as feminists.
• Leo Baeck Education Center DEI Program, $7,500
Leo Baeck's middle school's initiative, "Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Starts with Me," creates leadership opportunities for young women through student-led projects, including: “Gender Equality Week,” anti-bias training for homeroom teachers, and more.
• Women of the Wall (WOW) Teen Feminism and Religion Curriculum, $5,000
WOW will expand its pilot program, “Feminism and Religion: A Curriculum for Israeli High School Students,” to make this important educational opportunity available to more teen girls.
• HUC-JIR Rabbinical Scholarships, $60,500
Student scholarships and awards will be allocated to students at each U.S. HUC-JIR campus (NYC, Cincinnati, and L.A.). This grant provides six scholarships of $10,000 each to rabbinic, cantorial, education, and nonprofit management students across these campuses. A $500 “Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Award” will be given to a graduating HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus woman who exemplifies the mission and values of WRJ and the qualities that Rabbi Priesand exhibited throughout her career.
• The Shlichei Tzibur Program: Empowering Women Leaders, $20,000
The Shlichei Tzibur Program encourages women to serve as prayer leaders in Reform and Progressive congregations. The program will expand and encourage more women to participate, particularly in underserved communities.
• Instituto Iberoamericano de Formación Rabínica Reformista, Scholarships for Female Rabbinical Students, $18,500
The Institute will provide scholarships to incentivize Spanish and Portuguese-speaking women who have demonstrated interest in pursuing rabbinic careers.
• HUC–JIR Israeli Rabbinical Program, $12,000
WRJ’s renewed grant will support the Israeli Rabbinical Program at HUC’s Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem.
• Reform Jewish Community of Canada (RJCC): L'Taken Social Justice Seminar, $10,000
RJCC will bring Canadian teens to Ottawa, ON for a social justice-oriented, four-day experience. There, the participants will learn how Reform Jewish perspectives are applied to pressing social issues.
• Abraham Geiger Kolleg Rabbinical and Cantorial Scholarships, $6,000
WRJ’s financial support will provide scholarships for rabbinic and cantorial students, enabling students with the greatest financial needs to continue their studies.
• Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Fellowship at the Religious Action Center (Washington, D.C.), $36,000
This year-long fellowship is designed for a recent college graduate who will focus on the intersection of Judaism, social justice, policy, and women's rights issues.
• Women's Rabbinic Network (WRN) Paid Family and Medical Leave Project, $15,000
The project will help address inequities in synagogue culture and reaffirm the importance of women in the rabbinate and Jewish professional leadership more widely.
• Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), Assistance for Immigrants, $15,000
With the onset of the war between Russia and Ukraine, the number of new immigrants (olim) from these nations has greatly increased. WRJ’s YES Fund grant will help fund two Progressive congregations and community hubs for Ukrainian and Russian-speaking immigrants and refugees.
• Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), $12,000
IRAC will continue its efforts to combat the vandalism and defacing of images of women in signs and ads in Jerusalem. WRJ’s grant also will help IRAC address additional types of discriminatory activities in Jerusalem.