Prize honors projects that apply Jewish wisdom to current problems


(JTA) — A gap-year program for social justice activists and a synagogue’s efforts to restore democratic discourse are among the winners of a major prize for projects that bring Jewish wisdom to bear on current challenges.

Backers of the Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom awarded a total of $150,000 to seven new and established projects.

The prizes were awarded Monday at the Jewish Funders Network Conference in San Francisco. It was funded by the Akron, Ohio-based Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah and Democracy and the Democracy Fund, as well as an anonymous donor. It is the second year for the prize.

Winners in the new ideas category, which each received a $15,000 grant, include the Rebuilding Democracy Project from the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, in Reston, which will teach participants how to use Jewish concepts and values to teach healthy political norms.

Other new initiatives include a pre-college program at Brandeis University called Being the Change: Public Policy, Justice, and Advocacy, and the Los Angeles-based CIVruta, which convenes community leaders in Los Angeles for a daylong civic study session.

Matovu, or What is Good, in St. Louis sponsors Three Occasions: Shalosh Regalim for Civic Engagement, which uses the holidays of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot to help increase civic engagement and advance regional progress.

Among the winners of the 2019 prize in the established projects category, which each received a $30,000 grant, was Tivnu: Building Justice, the only U.S.-based gap year program for Jewish high school graduates. Students participate in local, grassroots direct-service and advocacy organizations in Portland, Oregon.

Other winners in the category are Facing History and Ourselves, which connects the Holocaust to lessons on prejudice and injustice, and Ikar-Minyan Tzedek: Organizing for Social Change, a Los Angeles community organizing project.

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