Guide names most groundbreaking organizations, projects and programs in North America

created at: 2013-11-07On Thursday, October 24, Jewish organizations across North America were holding their breath to see who would be named in this year’s Slingshot Guide, the foremost resource of today’s most groundbreaking organizations, projects and programs of the North American Jewish community. From over 200 applications, evaluators chose 50 organizations – and highlighted another 17 as Standard Bearers – who they believed would drive the future of Jewish life and engagement. 18 organizations were featured in each of two new supplements – Disabilities & Inclusion and Women & Girls – in order to recognize novel ways that Jewish organizations support specific populations.

A small group from the 83 evaluators reviewed each nominee against four criteria: innovation, impact, strong leadership and organizational effectiveness. As it turns out, 8 organizations in Greater Boston had what it takes to be listed in some part of the guide. Out of the 17 organizations selected to be Standard Bearers, 4 hail from Greater Boston: Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, InterfaithFamily, Keshet, and Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center.

Four more innovative Jewish organizations in the Boston area were selected for the first time. The David Project and JOIN for Justice were both listed in the guide. The Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston’s JCC Camp Kingswood Zohar Program was recognized in the Disability & Inclusion supplement; the Jewish Women’s Archive was recognized in the Women & Girls supplement.

“The Slingshot Guide is an essential resource for putting a national spotlight on inspiring work happening in local communities across North America,” explains Julie Finkelstein, Program Director at Slingshot. “Highlighting organizations throughout the Boston area is a testament to the community’s commitment to building and sustaining engaging, relevant and impactful Jewish opportunities. With Slingshot, our national network of doers and donors learn about Boston’s inspiring stories, and Bostonians of all ages are introduced to some of the most innovative Jewish opportunities happening in their own backyards.  Slingshot is proud to partner with CJP and many area organizations and foundations to support Boston’s successful drive towards Jewish innovation.”

The David Project helps college students use their own voices, points of view and experiences to positively shape campus opinion on Israel. Slingshot evaluators were excited about the David Project’s “willingness to take risks in service to its cause, and praise the organization’s use of thoughtful measurement tools to assess the future efficacy of those risks.”

Gateways: Access to Jewish Education is the central agency for special needs programs and services for students across Jewish educational organizations and denominations in Greater Boston. Slingshot noted that “through training for educators and consultations with organizations wishing to better include learners with disabilities, its multifaceted approach fills a critical void in Jewish education.” In addition to being a Standard Bearer, Gateways is also featured in the Disabilities and Inclusion supplement.

InterfaithFamily offers online educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and an InterfaithFamily/Your Community initiative, providing coordinated comprehensive offerings in local communities, including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area. Slingshot notes that “as the number of intermarried families in American continues to grow, InterfaithFamily leads the conversation and demands a place for interfaith families in Jewish communal life.” 

JCC Camp Kingswood Zohar Special Needs Program is proud to provide camping programs that empower children of all abilities to develop self-confidence, self-esteem, independence, skills and lifelong friendships all while strengthening their Jewish identities. One evaluator shares, “The ability to find an appropriate and caring summer camp experience for children with disabilities throughout their teens and beyond will have a great impact on helping these young people feel connected to the Jewish community.” 

The Jewish Women’s Archive is an online presence with virtual exhibits, oral history projects, an encyclopedia of over 2,000 articles, and engaging blog content, all aimed at preserving the legacy of both well- and lesser-known American Jewish women. “Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) stands alone in pushing forward an agenda of inclusion of women in Jewish history,” wrote one Slingshot evaluator.

JOIN for Justice strengthens the community organizing practice of Jewish leaders, ensuring that Jewish communities play a powerful role in North American social justice struggles. Evaluators were impressed with JOIN for Justice’s “success in building meaningful partnerships that result in generating change throughout the Jewish community.”

Keshet works towards the full equality and inclusion of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) Jews in all areas of Jewish life. “In its 17 years of operation,” says Slingshot, “Keshet has built and led the field of Jewish LGBTQ inclusion. Over and over again, Keshet has proven its ability to adapt its work to the needs of the community.”

Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center is a beautiful and radically inclusive mikveh (ritual bath) and education center for healing, celebrations, life transitions and conversion to Judaism. Mayyim Hayyim is the only organization in the guide that is recognized in both supplements and as a Standard Bearer.

Boston has long been thought of as a city of innovation. Recognition in the Slingshot Guide by so many of its nonprofit organizations is just another confirmation of this.

For more detailed information about the organizations in the Slingshot Guide 2013-2014, visit www.slingshotfund.org.

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