What is innovation? Does something innovative need to be new? As old fashioned and nostalgic as I am, such does not mean that I do not recognize and embrace innovation. As Richard Lyons said in The Economist, innovation is “fresh thinking that creates value.” And the same mindset can be attributed to the Jewish Alliance. Realizing there are unmet community needs as well as a desire to tap into creativity and stimulate the growth of ideas, this past fall we introduced an Innovation Funding opportunity. This initiative sought to identify and benefit unique projects from synagogues and agencies that build community, blend innovation and Jewish values, increase outreach and engagement, and provide unique solutions to identified problems/issues.
I was inspired by the many applicants and the scope of ideas proposed. They elucidated trends, emerging needs, and a strong desire for collaboration. After careful due diligence and review of the proposals, I am proud to announce that the Alliance is providing grants totaling $63,500 to 6 institutions to fund laudatory and innovative programs. These efforts will expand adult learning opportunities, engage our youth in up-to date-Hebrew curricula, support our clergy in their challenging and evolving roles, and engage volunteers in coordinating teen experiences.
In the final analysis, we could not provide funding for such statewide innovations were it not for your annual generosity. You can share my pride as we eagerly watch them develop and invigorate our local community. Perhaps, you too, will directly participate or benefit from these initiatives. How utterly gratifying that Alliance campaign dollars will extend their reach to an even wider range of our community members and will have a positive impact on the greater Rhode Island Jewish community.
Grants were awarded to the following institutions:
1. Chabad of West Bay: The Grow Program
Innovative complementary STEAM-based school curriculum focusing on global impact
2. Congregation Beth Sholom: Mean What You Pray: Techniques for Inspired Prayer
Professionally-trained instructors teaching inspirational approaches to deepening and understanding prayer
3. Jewish Family Service/Thrive: Retreat for Clergy
Empowering interfaith clergy with skills and tools to balance the psychological demands in their ever evolving roles
4. Temple Emanu-El: Delve Deeper Jewish Adult Learning Program
Dynamic in-depth, Jewish university-level courses for adult learners
5. Temple Sinai: Education Renewal Project
Technology enhanced Hebrew curriculum for multi-generational impact
6. Torat Yisrael: Youth and Teen Program
Volunteer parent-network providing tweens and teens with religious content intertwined with social engagement and leadership skills