Reform Women's Movement Awards More Than $350,000 in Grants to Youth, Education, and Special Project Initiatives

New York, NY, June 29, 2015 - Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), through its Youth, Education, & Special Projects Fund, has given $370,200 in grants to 19 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 train future leaders of Reform Judaism by providing scholarships for youth programs around the world, including for girls to attend a science and technology summer camp, and funding the training of Jewish professionals in Reform seminaries and other special programs. Capital projects include renovating the Leo Baeck College Library in London and building a new housing unit at a Reform kibbutz in Israel for a residential environmental education program, while social justice initiatives include advocating for issues in the U.S. and Israel through organizations in D.C. and Jerusalem.

While the YES Fund was formally established in 1955, the tzedakah roots of WRJ date back to its founding in 1913 when it began sponsoring rabbinic scholarships. Since then, the YES Fund has raised millions of dollars through campaigns and product sales for numerous projects including: building the dormitory at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati and the former Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) headquarters in New York City, establishing the Jewish Braille Institute (now JBI International), founding NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth), and helping to create the first URJ camp.    

The 2015 WRJ YES Fund grants were awarded to the following organizations and programs:

Youth

  • 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 aged six months to eight years old on a monthly basis.
     
  • NFTY6 Project, $25,000: This multi-year $75,000 grant was made in honor of NFTY’s 75thAnniversary to support engaging 6th graders in peer-led programs.
     
  • World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Youth Programs, $15,000: This grant supports 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 second year, WRJ will help encourage and support the participation of girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, which have traditionally been male-dominated, through these camp scholarships.

Education

  • HUC-JIR Student Scholarships, $72,000: 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.
     
  • Leo Baeck College (London) Library Renovation, $36,000: This grant will help the seminary renovate its library, properly house its rare book collection, and develop its Beit Midrash learning center for rabbinical students.
     
  • 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.
     
  • WRJ HUC-JIR Faculty Award, $1,800: Established in honor of Rabbi David Ellenson upon his retirement as HUC-JIR President, this biennial award is given to an HUC-JIR faculty member who has supported WRJ or whose work embodies WRJ’s mission.

Special Projects

  • 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.
     
  • Kibbutz Lotan (Israel) Expansion, $25,000: Part of a multi-year $50,000 gift to fully fund 1 of 12 new student housing units 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.
     
  • The Torah: A Modern Commentary Translation into Portuguese, $5,400: Nearly 35 years after the publication of the first English language liberal Torah commentary, this grant will help translate The Torah: A Modern Commentary into Portuguese for the growing Reform community in Brazil. 

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.

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Published: 06/29/2015

The Youth, Education, and Special Projects (YES) Fund represents the collective financial efforts of individual donors and WRJ-affiliated sisterhoods to grow our Reform institutions, fund clergy education, and inspire our youth.

Through the YES Fund and other philanthropic efforts, WRJ provides hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to educate Reform professionals, advance women’s leadership, and build Progressive institutions.

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