Organization: Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, Jackson, MS
Grant Year: 2023
Project Director: Molly Levy
Type of Grant: Signature
Grant Amount: $100,000 (2 years)
Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life – To re-envision ISJL’s educational model and to create a cohort program and resources to help educators reimagine religious school education throughout the South.
What most excites you about building Jewish community in the South?
Growing up in Gainesville, Georgia, I know what it’s like to be a part of a small Jewish community. My experience signifies DIY-small-town Judaism: my parents would drive an hour to services held in a church, set up all the chairs, buy all the food for the oneg, and simultaneously run the gift shop. By the time I was a teenager, I was leading services while they did all that! I know that ISJL’s partners take on similar responsibilities in order to make Jewish life happen in their small southern communities.
What aspect of this grant are you most looking forward to implementing?
I am really looking forward to building the Hineinu Y’all cohort, which will allow us to deepen ties with educators region-wide. Through this cohort program, we will have the opportunity to convene educators from across the South and support them in developing locally-relevant and regionally-supported programs. I’m excited to see what relationships and ideas emerge that will inspire change across the South.
What is a story from your work that highlights the impact you hope to make on the field of Jewish education?
I currently host a virtual, monthly open forum for our educational partners called Coffee Talk. At our most recent session, a frequent attendee shared that she had implemented a new teen program, after struggling with teen attendance for many months. After outlining the program’s success, she explained that she’d gotten this program idea from a past Coffee Talk. Hearing stories of how regional conversations have had incredible local impact is exactly what we intend to do with Hineinu Y’all.