The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Awards Local Congregations $4.4 Million in Multi-Year Grants to Elevate Jewish Education and Engagement

Grants Based on Evidence that Congregations Use Grant Funding for Critical, High-Impact Change

Editor’s Note: Cincy Jewfolk is funded by a two-year grant from the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati.

The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati awarded eight local congregations $4.4 million total in grants to be paid out over three years, strengthening a partnership between the Foundation and these institutions enhancing Jewish life in our community. The grants have been awarded to:  Adath Israel Congregation, Congregation Zichron Eliezer (CZE), Golf Manor Synagogue, Northern Hills Synagogue, Isaac M. Wise Temple, Rockdale Temple, Temple Sholom, and Valley Temple. The Foundation also has existing grants with Congregation Beth Adam and Congregation Sha’arei Torah that will be up for renewal in the coming year.

“The Foundation is proud of this latest investment in congregations,” said Jewish Foundation CEO Brian Jaffee. “While there are many paths to fulfilling involvement in Jewish life, congregations are essential places where a significant number of people build community, and find a home for spiritual engagement and meaning, Jewish education, and pastoral care.”

The grants build capacity in Jewish education and engagement by enabling the congregations to bring on new rabbinic leadership and staff members, and to diversify programming and services within and beyond the sanctuary and religious school. Each congregation was invited to submit a proposal intended to build upon and expand new initiatives in those areas, and the funding supplements, rather than replaces, financial support provided by members and donors. A common thread across several of the congregations is a concerted effort to listen to the needs and desires expressed by more of their own congregants, and to involve them in co-creating new initiatives to deepen inreach to congregants of various ages, backgrounds, and life experiences. In addition, many of the new initiatives will enable congregations to offer enhanced services to individuals and families in the community who are not members of the congregation.

As a result, Cincinnati’s congregations are leading innovative new efforts featuring contemporary models of worship, education, activism and social interaction. These include creative services being held in diverse neighborhoods and venues throughout the city; updated prayers, songs and liturgy reflecting the evolving demographics in congregations; family retreats centered on robust educational themes and opportunities to develop new social bonds; social justice initiatives for individuals eager to connect their Jewish values with issues in the broader community; as well as new approaches to supplementary Jewish education in Sunday Schools and other religious school programming.

“Congregations benefit when they involve more people in designing programs, and our grants support this important approach,” adds Foundation Chairperson John Stein. “We are finding that the congregations are being incredibly thoughtful about their different segments, including age and affinity groups, and catering more to different interests. We want to amplify and celebrate these successes – especially as we see more and more of our congregations being showcased nationally for their work.”

In total, The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati awards about $19 million in grants each year to local organizations that create meaningful Jewish community experiences or support Jews in need.

About the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati

The Foundation strives to address the needs and aspirations of a broad and diverse spectrum of Jewishly identified individuals and families in Greater Cincinnati, including both those already immersed in Jewish life and activities, as well as those seeking their own personal connections and new expressions of Jewish involvement. The Foundation commits to learning from, with and about its grantee partners and the constituencies they serve and to sharing these learnings widely.