Nine Seeds of Innovation Grants Awarded to JTS Alumni

Press Contact: Beth Mayerowitz
Office: (212) 678-8055

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of its Seeds of Innovation Project grants, which provide funding up to $20,000 for innovative initiatives developed by JTS alumni. The project supports alumni who are spearheading groundbreaking initiatives that help create, nurture, educate, or inspire communities and/or individuals based on the principles and ideals of Conservative Judaism.

Through this project, JTS continues to nurture leaders who serve and impact their local communities throughout the Jewish world.

The following JTS alumni have been awarded 2018 Seeds of Innovation grants:

Dr. Roberta Bell-Kligler (DS ’13)
Sparks of Change Program at Oranim College
(Building meaningful dialogue and sustainable connections between Jewish and Arab young people from Israeli and North American Jewish communities)
Tivon, Israel

Rabbi Eliav Bock (LC ’00, RS’09, DS ’09)
Shmirat haNefesh Rabbinic Internship at BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy
(Exploring the intersection of Judaism and wilderness for whole health wellness with the nation’s first Jewish wilderness therapy program)
Deckers, Colorado

Michael Dorfman (The Legacy Heritage Instructional Leadership Institute, ’12)
Israel Teen Fellowship*
(Creating an immersive Israel experience for Jewish teens and teens of other faiths)
* This grant was made possible by generous funding from Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Rachel Figurasmith (DS ’15)
Big Jewish Talks for Little Jewish Talkers at Repair the World NYC
(Providing parents with tools to engage in difficult conversations with their children about contemporary issues)
New York, New York

Rabbi Ethan Linden (RS ’07)
Tefillah B’Ramah: Ramah Tefillah Leadership Program at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires (Training teen and young adult educators to create and lead engaging and transformational tefillah experiences)
Wingdale, NY

Rebecca Lurie (LC ’01) and Rabbi Ravid Tilles (RS ’13, GS ’13)
Tzmichat Doroteinu at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston
(Growing leadership skills in middle school students who self-identify as future leaders of the Jewish people)
Newton, Massachusetts

Rabbi Andrea Merow (LC ’92, RS ’97, DS ’97) and Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin (RS ’94)
The Center for Spiritual Well-Being: A Project of Beth Sholom Congregation 
(Enhancing spirituality and mental and physical well-being through learning, service, inspiring prayer, and community support groups)
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

Sara Shapiro-Plevan (GS ’96) and Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu (RS ’00)
The Gender Equity in Hiring in the Jewish Community Project
(Working to remove gender bias from hiring processes in Jewish organizational life in order to help women rise to positions of leadership)
New York, New York

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf (RS ’98)
Hineni Jewish LGBTQ Leadership Seminars
(Empowering LGBTQ Jews to attain leadership positions in the Jewish community)
Washington, DC

“The tremendous variety of the nine projects created by our Seeds of Innovation grant recipients reflects the breadth of impact that JTS graduates exercise on their communities,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Marc Gary. “These exciting projects range in the challenges they address and the audiences they reach. We are proud to support all these projects, as we continue to explore additional areas of support for our outstanding alumni.”

“It’s deeply inspiring to witness the passion, skill, and profound impact of my fellow JTS alumni,” said alum and Director of Community Engagement Rabbi Julia Andelman (RS ’06). “Serving on the Seeds of Innovation selection committee has been an honor and has made me even more proud to be an alum and colleague of these talented professionals who are addressing virtually every aspect and stage of Jewish life in their work.”

Grant recipients are determined by a selection committee, which includes JTS alumni and is chaired by the executive vice chancellor.

During the last five years, JTS has awarded close to $400,000 in Seeds of Innovation grants to innovative programs spearheaded by alumni.

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About The Jewish Theological Seminary | JTS is a preeminent institution of Jewish higher education, training thoughtful, innovative leaders—rabbis, cantors, educators, lay leaders, and scholars—who strengthen our communities with a vision of Judaism that is deeply grounded in the Jewish past and thoroughly engaged with contemporary society. JTS also provides high-caliber lifelong learning and professional development to our alumni, adult learners, and Jewish communities throughout North America. Through its Library, JTS preserves and makes accessible to students and scholars throughout the world the greatest collection of Judaica in the Western Hemisphere.