New York, NY, June 15, 2016 – Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), through its Youth, Education, & Special Projects (YES) Fund, has awarded $338,500 in grants to 15 programs that will strengthen the Reform Movement and provide the tools necessary for religious, social, and educational growth in North America, in Israel, and around the world.
These grants to Reform Jewish institutions worldwide will help nurture Jewish youth engagement by supporting youth programs, 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 a science and technology summer camp. Other grants will provide scholarships for rabbinical students and Jewish professional programs in North America, Berlin, London, and Moscow. The “Women’s Choice Grant” will be an online competition to select a grantee from among numerous progressive or Reform Jewish programs.
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 2016-2017 WRJ YES Fund grants were awarded to the following organizations and programs:
- URJ-WRJ PJ Library Partnership, $50,000: This program supports congregations/sisterhoods in small communities throughout North America in implementing this Jewish family engagement program that mails free, high-quality Jewish children’s books and music to families with children ages six months to eight years old on a monthly basis.
- NFTY678 Project, $25,000: This multi-year $100,000 grant initially was made in honor of NFTY’s 75th Anniversary to support engaging 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in peer-led programs.
- World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Youth Programs, $15,000: This grant supports international youth programs such as camps in the FSU, youth programs in South America, and travel to Israel for 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, which have traditionally been male-dominated, through these camp scholarships.
- NFTY, $10,000: Continuing WRJ’s long-standing commitment to NFTY, this grant will provide financial support of the 2017 NFTY Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
- HUC-JIR Student Scholarships, $73,500: This grant covers half-tuition for two students at each North American campus (NYC, Cincinnati, L.A.) for any program (cantorial, rabbinical, education, communal service).
- Overseas Rabbinical Scholarships, $40,000: These scholarships support rabbinical students studying at Leo Baeck College (London) and Abraham Geiger College (Germany) who will serve Reform and Progressive communities outside of North America and Israel upon ordination.
- WUPJ Machon Program, $18,000: Part of a multi-year $36,000 grant to train rabbis and other Jewish professionals from the FSU who will serve their home communities upon ordination.
- HUC-JIR (Jerusalem) Israel Rabbinical Program, $18,000: This grant supports the rabbinical training of Israeli students who will serve Israeli Reform communities upon ordination.
- HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Cantorial Prize, $1,000: Given annually, this award is presented to a deserving cantorial student.
- Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) Eisendrath Legislative Assistant (Washington, D.C.), $15,000: 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.
- Kibbutz Lotan (Israel) Expansion, $25,000: Part of a multi-year $50,000 gift to fully fund a new student housing unit at this integrated, holistic community that strives to balance sustainability in everyday life.
- Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Mother-Daughter Bat Mitzvah Program, $18,000: 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’s Choice” Grant Competition, $10,000: There will be an online competition to decide which program, selected from partner organizations, will be funded after voting in spring 2017.
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.