January 8, 2019

Achieving Inclusivity through Innovation

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

I’m deeply proud of the message coming out of our Greater MetroWest Innovations Fund in our Jewish Community Foundation: that we are committed to supporting Jewish engagement solutions that expand Greater MetroWest’s inclusiveness and foster meaningful Jewish connections with community members who do not feel engaged… to interfaith families… to LGBTQ families.

Our Innovations Fund is sponsored by our Greater MetroWest Foundation, with all 19 Wexner Heritage Program graduates from the most recent Greater MetroWest cohort. The graduates agreed to a three-year commitment of $150,000 in personal gifts to support collaborative and innovative philanthropy. This inspiring move by emerging leaders leverages a match of an additional $300,0000 over the next three years from our Foundation Grants Committee.

They’ve just approved the two following three-year grants:

Honeymoon Israel (HMI) for $150,000, to provide immersive trips to Israel for locally based cohorts of couples that have at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship, creating communities of couples who are building families with deep and meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people. The trip will create bonds between 20 local couples and a local rabbi and educator, with follow-up programming. The first Greater MetroWest HMI experience will take place in Fall 2019. HMI targets couples with at least one Jewish partner aged 25-40, in the first five years of their marriage or committed partnership. HMI’s focus is on selecting couples least connected to Jewish life and nationally includes upward of 70% participants from interfaith couples and 8% LGBTQ couples. HMI seeks to build a diverse group of participants that reflects the demographics of our Greater MetroWest community.

JHub Connectors of Greater MetroWest for $120,000, to connect interfaith and LGBTQ families with young children to one another to create more intimate relationships and increase Jewish communal engagement. JHub will begin by connecting interfaith and LGBTQ families through the positioning of 2 JHub Connectors who identify as Jewish interfaith and/or LGBTQ parents raising Jewish children ages 6 and under. The JHub Connectors will develop local social networks and provide openings for meaningful Jewish experiences. Two leading national organizations that provide support for LGBTQ and interfaith families — InterfaithFamily and Keshet — will partner with Federation’s JHub for training and support for the Connectors and other local community professionals. JHub targets families who identify as LGBTQ and/or interfaith (with one Jewish parent) with children ages 6 and under within Montclair and South Orange/Maplewood. After the initial year, JHub plans to spread its success to communities in Morris and Union counties.

To find out more about The Innovations Fund, contact my colleague Yaffa Karp.

Additionally, we’re proud to be part of our national Jewish Federations’ LGBTQ mission to Israel, taking place June 6-13. This unique mission will have 7 nights/8 days in amazing visits and experiences, including meetings with Israeli leaders from the LGBTQ community and learning about the triumphs and tensions felt in Israel today. You’ll experience the full breadth and diversity of LGBTQ activism in Israel through Federation partners, building support for Israel and LGBTQ Israelis. And you’ll gain a new connection to Israel, Federation and healing the world through seeing our extraordinary work up close. For more information, contact my colleague Heidi Kuperman.