From 2014 to 2018, JTS was proud to recognize and reward innovation in our alumni community through the Seeds of Innovation Project, which awarded close to $400,000 in grants to 25 alumni-led projects.

Winning projects were based in synagogues, camps, schools, Hillels, and other organizations led by JTS alumni, and had a wide range of target audiences, from early childhood to those nearing the end of life. These projects embodied the ideals of Conservative Judaism yet also transcended denominational boundaries in their reach. The issues they addressed are matters of great importance to both JTS and the Jewish community, including conversion, food justice, fertility, palliative care, addiction, the arts, Jewish life outside of major urban centers, spirituality and wellness, prayer leadership and liturgical creativity, parenting, interfaith relations in both North America and Israel, Jewish responses to hate, empowerment of LGBTQ youth, gender bias in hiring in Jewish organizations, as well as youth and adult education—both formal and informal.

Although the Seeds of Innovation Project has drawn to a close, we continue to support our alumni through numerous continuing education programs and community learning initiatives, helping them to address pressing issues in contemporary Jewish life and nurturing their devotion to bringing Judaism alive for the next generation.

Grant Recipients 

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)

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) 

Sarah Chandler (DS ’05, KS ‘06)

Yizal Mayim: The Flow of Water (Renewing the Jewish relationship with water in the land of Israel through text, prayer, and hands-on activities)

Rabbi Adam Cutler (RS ’09)

Keeping the Faith (Maintaining and deepening the connection between Jews by Choice and Jewish communities)

Rabbi Justin David (RS ’99)

Come and Eat: A Jewish Food Justice Initiative

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) 

Annie Glickman (DS ’97)

Priya: A New Fund for Jewish Reproduction

Rabbi Michael Goldman (RS ’05)

Seivah: Jewish Life Beyond Memory (A resource for caring for those with dementia)

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs (RS ’11)

The Maine Conference for Jewish Life (Revitalizing rural Jewish living)

Rabbi Jill Jacobs (RS ’03, GS ’03)

The T’ruah Liturgy Project (Connecting prayer with social justice)

Rabbi Naomi Kalish (RS ’98, GS ’01)

Hudson Interfaith Teen Initiative (Developing curriculum for teen leadership development in interfaith engagement and activism)

Rabbi Joseph H. Krakoff (RS ’98)

LifeLinks: Home-Based Palliative Care (Bringing comprehensive and compassionate palliative care to the homes of terminally ill clients)

Rabbi Benay Lappe (RS ’97)

Radical Educators Training Program (Equipping educators to create empowering and transformative experiences of Talmud study)

Rabbi Aaron Levy (LC ’98)

Makom Afterschool (Creating community around Hebrew language and Jewish learning)

Eliana Light (DS ’16)

The G!D Project (Expanding and challenging understandings of God and providing a space for exploring issues of belief)

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)

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) 

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) 

Rabbi Jessica Minnen (RS ’13)

Seven Wells (a program for adults to explore intimacy through a Jewish framework)

Rabbi Bronwen Mullin (GS ’17, RS ’17)

Bat Yiftach: A Tragic Punk Opera (Creating contemporary Jewish theater that provokes and empowers Jewish textual engagement) 

Rabbi Avi Olitzky (LC ’03, RS ’08, GS ’08)

Leveraging Family Camp (Lowering the cost barrier for engaging young families)

Rabbi Elizabeth Richman (RS ’09)

Response Ability (Educating and organizing against hate from a Jewish perspective) 

Shirah Rubin (DS ’03)

Hebrew Play’s Teacher Training (Developing the field of early Hebrew language instruction)

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) 

Rabbi Brent Spodek (RS ’07, GS ’07)

Masa Initiative (Reimagining congregational education for youth and adults)

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf (RS ’98)

Hineni Jewish LGBTQ Leadership Seminars (Empowering LGBTQ Jews to attain leadership positions in the Jewish community) 

I am an alum of JTS, and I am interested in the Seeds of Innovation Project grant. I work for, but am not the founder of, a new program. Can I apply for a grant for the program?

The JTS alum must be actively involved in the project, not just associated with the organization. He or she does not have to be the most senior leader but should have a leadership role.

Does the Conservative Movement, or some segment of the Movement, need to be the target audience for my project? May my project be affiliated with another denomination?

The target audience does not need to be strictly a Conservative Jewish one. The project can reach out to many denominations and other religious/secular groups. Projects may be affiliated with other denominations. The only requirement is that the project be inspired by Conservative Jewish principles and ideals. For example, you could explain how principles of inclusion and pluralism, as reflected in this project, are central to Conservative Judaism.

If I previously applied for a Seeds of Innovation Project grant and did not receive one, may I reapply for the same project?

Yes, you may reapply, using the new online application.

May I submit more than one application?

Yes, multiple projects can be submitted by a single alum for consideration. 

If this application is for a 2018–19 grant, does this mean the project could begin at any point in 2018?

The project can commence at any time, but the funding will come in September of 2018 (or if it is a multiyear grant, in September of the applicable years).

Are there any particular ways in which applicants need to demonstrate how their projects cultivate Jewish engagement through the principles and ideals of Conservative Judaism (e.g., by referring to a particular ideal or concrete resource)?

The application prompt is meant to fit a broad range of interpretations and understandings. There is no particular way the committee members are looking for the inclusion of these principles in your proposal, but rather they want applicants to feel free to express them as they see best. Applicants need to show the nexus to the principles and ideals of Conservative Judaism as they understand them. Applicants do not need to refer to a specific document.