Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), through its YES (Youth, Education, & Special Projects) Fund, has awarded $321,000 in grants to 15 programs that will strengthen Jewish life and provide the tools necessary for religious, social, and educational growth in North America, in Israel, and around the world.
These grants will help nurture Jewish youth engagement by supporting youth programs around the world, including middle and high school youth programs in North America, PJ Library, camps in the former Soviet Union (FSU), post-college Jewish advocacy fellowships, Bat Mitzvah education for Israeli girls, and scholarships for girls to attend science and technology summer camp. Other grants will provide scholarships for rabbinic and other Jewish professional students in North America, Buenos Aires, London, Moscow, and Potsdam.
Since its founding in 1913, WRJ has been a primary funder of Reform and progressive Jewish causes, raising millions of dollars through its YES Fund. Major initiatives have included building the dormitory at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, purchasing the land for the former Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) headquarters in New York City, establishing the Jewish Braille Institute (now JBI International), founding North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), helping to establish the first Reform youth camp, and publishing the landmark The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary.
The 2018-2019 WRJ YES Fund grants were awarded to the following organizations and programs:
- URJ-WRJ PJ Library Partnership, $50,000: This program supports congregations in small communities throughout North America in implementing this Jewish family engagement program that provides free, high-quality Jewish children’s books and music to families with children ages six months to eight years old on a monthly basis.
- World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Youth Programs, $20,000: This grant supports international youth programs such as camps in the FSU and travel to Israel for South American and South African youth.
- URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy Scholarships for Girls, $10,000: For the fourth year, WRJ will help encourage and support the participation of girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through these camp scholarships.
- URJ Kutz Camp Library, $25,000: This grant is the second installment of a $50,000 commitment to renovate the library of the Reform Movement’s camp for teen leaders.
- NFTY, $10,000: Continuing WRJ’s long-standing commitment to NFTY, this grant will provide financial support of the 2019 NFTY Convention in Dallas, Texas.
- HUC-JIR Student Scholarships, $75,000: This grant covers half-tuition for two students at each North American campus (NYC, Cincinnati, LA) for any program (cantorial, rabbinic, education, communal service).
- Overseas Rabbinic Scholarships, $46,500: These scholarships support rabbinic students studying at Leo Baeck College (London), Abraham Geiger College (Potsdam), Instituto Rabinico Program (Buenos Aries), and the World Union for Progressive Judaism Machon Program (Moscow), who will serve Reform and Progressive communities outside of North America and Israel upon ordination.
- HUC-JIR (Jerusalem) Israel Rabbinic Program, $18,000: This grant supports the rabbinic training of Israeli students, who will serve Israeli Reform communities upon ordination.
- HUC-JIR Student Scholarships for WRJ Conferences, $10,000: These scholarships provide funds for HUC-JIR students in any program to attend WRJ conferences, such as the upcoming WRJ Social Justice Conference taking place May 19-20, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
- HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Cantorial Prize, $1,000: Given annually, this award is presented to a deserving cantorial student.
- WRJ Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Award, $500: Established in honor of the 45th anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Priesand, this award is given to a graduating HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus woman who exemplifies the mission and values of WRJ and embodies the qualities that Rabbi Priesand has exhibited throughout her career.
- Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) Eisendrath Legislative Assistant (Washington, D.C.), $25,000: This year-long fellowship allows a recent college graduate interested in Judaism, social justice, and policy to work on WRJ’s social justice legislative priorities and initiatives.
- Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Mother-Daughter Bat Mitzvah Program, $20,000: This program, which aligns with WRJ and IMPJ’s emphasis on gender equality, empowers young girls and strengthens their Jewish identity by emphasizing equality, life transitions, and connection to Judaism and the community.
- Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), $10,000: This grant supports advocacy efforts on behalf of religious pluralism, women, and vulnerable populations in Israel.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. WRJ represents tens of thousands of women in hundreds of women’s groups, strengthening the voice of women worldwide and empowering them to create caring communities, nurture congregations, cultivate personal and spiritual growth, and advocate for and promote progressive Jewish values.